Harbaugh to Paramus grads: Be enthusiastic and respectful

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Newark, N.J. — As he’s done for most of June, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh continued to rack up the travel miles Thursday, adding two more legs to his whirlwind travel log.

Harbaugh conducted a satellite camp in Warren, Ohio, early Thursday, before returning to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., to give the commencement address for Paramus Catholic High, where he led a satellite camp Wednesday. It’s also the home to Rashan Gary, the No. 1 prospect in the country who will be a freshman at Michigan this fall.

Harbaugh focused on five major points, which he dubbed: “Five Magnificent Things about You,” during his 15-minute speech to the 411 graduates.

■You matter: “You know there’s other good people out there — and some great ones — but there’s only one you,” he said.

■You make a difference: “What you do impacts others. Your attitudes, your actions, your decisions, your responses — they have a ripple effect and that’s powerful. You can encourage or discourage with a look or a word or even the things you don’t say or do say.”

■You make mistakes: “We all do. We are not the sum of our mistakes. We are what we have learned from those mistakes.”

■You make memories: “Memories are mostly about how we do things and who we do them with. Memories, after all, are what are in our hearts and minds and in the end, what we hope to have. You do get some control over your memories and your story.”

■You make choices: “You have the power to choose. You choose every day. You make this choice daily.”

Harbaugh also added several nuggets of wisdom, imploring the graduates to be enthusiastic and respectful, to compete and to produce.

He often invoked stories of his father, Jack, and brother John as they were growing up.

“You’re going to need enthusiasm,” he said. “My father, Jack Harbaugh, would drop my brother John and I off at school and say, ‘I want you to attack this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind — and don’t take any wooden nickels.’

“Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘Nothing was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ Jack Harbaugh said, ‘Attack this day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.’ Two of history’s great philosophers agree — Jack Harbaugh and Ralph Waldo Emerson.”

Harbaugh didn’t just keep with the Michigan mantra of “leaders and best.” He urged the students to be good followers, too.

“Learn to follow; obedience is an underrated talent,” he said. “In today’s culture, it’s a negative word. Actually, the ability to put yourself under another’s authority is a valuable and rare talent.”