I've been a teacher for quite some time now... and if you asked my students one thing about my interests... the majority of them would say "sports".
I use a variety of ways to bond with my students, but at the middle school level... I've found that sports and music are two of the easiest ways to make a connection. So... when the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV this past February... I went to work with a huge smile on my face and most of them knew why.
Just around that time, one of my students asked me who my favorite player was... so I told him "James Jones"... because he's a local guy and a fellow San Jose State University alumnus.
The fact is SJSU doesn't produce too many big name athletes, but when they do... I'm usually a huge fan of theirs. As a bonus... Jones was drafted in 2007 by one of my favorite teams... the Green Bay Packers. It was almost as if the stars were aligned.
Anyways... back to the story. As I was talking to the student, another student joined our conversation and told me that his uncle was a close friend of Jones and that he had met him on numerous occasions. He seemed to know a lot about him... like the fact that his uncle and Jones both went to Gunderson, which is one of our local high schools. At the end of our conversation, he said that he'd get me a autograph to hang on our classroom wall.
In my time as a teacher... I've heard hundreds... maybe thousands of promises... and from those promises, I've learned not to get my hopes up. It's not because I don't believe my students... it's just that kids are human beings and sometimes forget... just like adults do.
Well... he didn't. A couple of weeks ago... he brought in a signed copy of a James Jones lithograph... with the inscription: "To Fujimoto... James Jones NTAF Super Bowl Champs"
In short... I was speechless, excited, and thankful all at once.
Every gift that I've received from my students has been appreciated... but only a handful have the potential to become a family heirloom. Everything about this gift is special: my student, the thought behind it, the player on the lithograph, his autograph, and of course his inscription.
After standing there speechless for a few seconds... and after I said "thank you" about ten times... I asked JN what NTAF stood for. He told me that James told him, but that he had forgotten.
Later... I researched it on the internet and found his website, which promotes his non-profit organization and the local youth football camp that he runs every Summer. There... I learned that NTAF stands for "Never Think About Failure", which is something I preach to my students on what seems to be a daily basis. Which is why this it's now hanging up in my classroom for all of my students to see.
I've already thanked him a bunch of times... but JN if you're reading this... domo arigato. This gift will be treasured as long as I'm in the classroom... and as long as I'm a fan of sports... which probably means until the day I die. It's truly a priceless present... and like the MasterCard commercials say... There are some things money can't buy.
Now it's your turn to share...
Do you have any sports memorabilia that you consider to be priceless?
In other words, you wouldn't sell it for any amount of money. If so... what is it? Why is it special?
It's unlikely that anyone would give me anything for my treasured item, since it's personalized to me. However... if someone offered... I wouldn't sell it for anything.
Well... only four more days until the weekend... enjoy the rest of your week! Sayonara!