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Sassy Sports Med Teacher Returns, Bringing Refreshing Air to Ayala

By: Anushka Thakker

          Jay Watkins recently returned from his 2-year break from teaching both sports medicine and study skills here at Ruben S. Ayala High School. During this break, he owned and managed his own restaurant while learning the ups and downs of running a business. Now back and better than ever with his newfound knowledge, Mr. Watkins has some information to share regarding just how exactly he got to where he is today.

          Starting with his days in high school, Watkins describes his interest in sports and medicine, “I was an athlete [in high school]. I knew I wasn't going to get a scholarship or anything like that, but I wanted to be a part of sports. And I really wanted to do something in medicine. So when I did get to college, I thought sports medicine was the perfect opportunity for me to do what I love.” 

          In high school, Watkins took a kinesiology sports medicine class. He became surprisingly good friends with the teacher. This passion for both sports and medicine led him to pursue the subjects at San Diego State, and later on a local junior college. 

          Watkins thanks his parents for forcing him to pay for his own way through college.

          Watkins said, “I went to junior college and my parents did the best thing. They said ‘We're not going to pay for your schooling anymore.’ I still wanted to finish school, so it made me use my money to get my education. I put a value on money, and I still wanted to be in medicine. And I love sports. So I finished up at Cal State San Bernardino. Division Two has almost every sport except for football. I loved it there. I was in kinesiology, and it was done in less than two years. I had a chief teaching job.”

          In addition, Watkins credits his wife for his “aha moment” - the moment in which he realized he wanted to pursue what he does today. 

          “I think my wife at the time, was like ‘Just do what you love.’ Because at the time, I was thinking, ‘Should I just do something easy, like be a tow truck driver do real estate?’ But she said, ‘Just go back to school.’ She pushed me. And that's how I got back into teaching.”

          Overall, Watkins is extremely grateful for his gap period in teaching, citing his restaurant as both a learning source and also as his biggest challenge yet.

          “This is my 14th year of teaching now. I taught for 12 years and I took a couple of years off because I had my own restaurant and then I closed it. It was tough. Losing a business you know, being so successful at the very beginning and then not knowing or saving for a rainy day? It was a wonderful learning experience.”

          While Watkins is thankful for his gap in teaching, he is excited and ready to teach a brand new batch of wonderful students during this 2019-2020 school year.

Watkins shares his advice to current high school students regarding their approach to a future career.

“Take your time, do what you want. But know that there's an end goal versus being short-sighted and going ‘Oh, I just want to get the money.’ Patience is indeed a virtue.”