The National Championship Experience

Sports enthusiasts have called it the game of the century. I call it the chance of a lifetime! Being a part of the National Championship game and all the events surrounding it only added to this year’s extraordinary experiences.

The 2017 Florida finalists and I  joined 2016 state teachers of the year from around the country in events ranging from an inspirational conference to a chilly-yet-energizing 5K to a VIP tasting of some of Tampa’s finest restaurants. Each day was packed with time to connect with fellow educators  unique experiences that were planned specifically to show appreciation for the work we do as educators without any expectation of tangible rewards.

Here’s a look at some of the events:

extra-yard Extra Yard for Teachers Summit

Teachers in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties, along with teachers from other parts of the state and the country gathered at the Extra Yard for Teachers Summit to hear motivating speakers touch on different aspects of being a teacher. The event was followed by the Teacher’s Lounge, which provides a forum for us to meet the speakers, take pictures with the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy, and interact with other attendees. It was the perfect combination of education and entertainment!

extra-yard AT&T Playlist Live – VIP Access

Rachel Platten, the top-selling singer and songwriter who is most known for her 2015 single, “Fight Song,” along with other featured artists, put on outstanding performances throughout the evening while we enjoyed a beautiful view from atop a local children’s museum. The catered event allowed us to build relationships with one another – and escape the unseasonably cold temperatures Florida experienced that weekend.

extra-yard Extra Yard 5K

Novices and expert athletes alike battled through the bitter – for Florida, that is! – cold, which happened to be a near-freezing 36 degrees. The race’s winners received complimentary national championship tickets, football-style trophies and, most importantly, bragging rights.


extra-yard Rehearsal at Raymond James Stadium

The state teachers of the year, the Florida teacher of the year finalists and I were given the unique opportunity to walk across the football field while it was being prepared for the big game. We even were able to snag a peak at a few ESPN sportscasters!


extra-yard Taste of the Championship

Teachers throughout the country were treated to delicious local cuisine while enjoying live entertainment and meeting retired football greats at the Florida Aquarium, which offered a beautiful backdrop to the night’s festivities.

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extra-yard National Championship Game

From the VIP tailgating experience to Clemson’s last-second touchdown to win the game, the night was filled with excitement, laughter and anticipation. By the time we all walked across the field to be recognized at half time, the magnitude of this experience finally began to settle in. I had an amazing time and made great connections with other educators that I hope to maintain for years to come, and I am thrilled that we were able to show our counterparts from every corner of the United States that in addition to being a wonderful place to get an education, Florida earns its reputation as a top vacation destination!



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