Why Nick Wears the Jacket

“Be who you are and say what you feel. For those that mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
This jacket was one of Nick’s favorite pieces of clothing to wear in high school. For him, it said all the right things; it was confident, fun, bold, and unique. Nick adopted this style from his admiration of Kenny Hammond, a slightly autistic garbage man.

Nick, a former caddy, met Kenny on Nantucket Island at Sankaty Head Golf Club, a highly prestigious golf course that was ultra exclusive and very difficult to become a member of. Kenny did not make much money, but was such an impressive golfer that the members of the club paid for his membership every year so that Kenny could play for free.

What Nick really liked about Kenny was his attitude. He was someone positive who loved life and treated everyone with the utmost respect. All the members loved Kenny.

The Sankaty Head Golf Club held an annual member-guest tournament, an extravagant show, where CEOs would fly their guests in on private jets. Everyone was always trying to out-impress everyone else. On the second day of the tournament, Kenny showed up in head-to-toe pink: pink suit, pink shoes, pink hat, pink shirt. He was there to make his own statement: that he was a garbage man, he had the worst clubs in the bag, that he had never taken a private lesson, and he could still out-golf everyone there.

Nick loved Kenny’s bold statement and attitude, and as soon as Nick saw that multi-colored jacket in the store, he immediately bought it. Nick fell in love with that jacket because it was fun and made him feel free and happy; this was Nick’s own way of saying, “I am moving and going places to the beat of my own drum.”

While Nick did not care what others thought, his jacket was not without controversy. Several people hated it and told him that he should not wear something so hideous. He was called homosexual slurs, he was berated constantly. Finally, enough people had psychologically worn him down that he eventually listened to the harsh criticisms and voices and he stopped wearing the Kenny-inspired jacket. He hung the jacket up in the closet where it remained for many years.

Over time, Nick began to hear his own voice again – the voice that told him to pursue his dreams, no matter what others thought. He followed his own calling, and eventually those derogatory voices were silenced. He put the jacket back on and now does not tour school assemblies without it.

Nick had finally realized that, just like his own experiences in high school, many students hide who they are and what they want to do in life. Most young adults only want to be accepted and avoid criticism; the opinions and pressures of others sometimes guide them in the wrong direction in life. Nick wants to change this thought process and see that students live to their full potential, are not afraid to be who they want to be, and bring out their true colors. He firmly believes that by changing this thought process, students will be much happier and they can bring out their own individuality and uniqueness to the world. They will live their life to the fullest by bringing out their gifts and true self to the world.

This is why Nick wears the jacket.

  • “Sharing your stories and adventures about your life kept the students so enthralled…They really listened to you about making the right choices in life. You inspired and motivated them to do better. Please continue to reach out and positively influence others.”

    High School of Commerce
  • “Nick has appeared in several local school districts with equal success. I strongly recommend him as a speaker, especially for a middle school and high school audience.”

    John R. Fausey School
  • “Thank you for coming to our school and sharing your story. It meant a lot to me. I took your story as a reason to do what I want to do. So I enlisted in the army and was sworn in on 12-09-15 do [sic] to your story of following your dreams…”

  • “To my delight he has inspired my classes with passion, energy, and grit to setting and accomplishing goals and following personal dreams. As part of his motivational talk he gives away the book “The Alchemist” to a lucky student. This gesture motivated our English Department to include the book within their curriculum reading list.”

    Franklin County Technical School
  • “…thank you for doing what you do. I’m looking forward to meeting with you again and sharing my storys [sic] to successes because you helped me reach it.”

  • “[Nick] has amazing energy and determination…Nick immediately draws in his audience by asking for participation.  They are vested in his story and are fascinated by the lengths he went to in pursuing his dream.”

    Greenfield High School
  • “The youth immediately felt comfortable listening to Nick and were empowered by him. He also impressed me with his willingness to listen to the youth and respond positively to all of their questions.”

    Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke
  • “[Nick’s] animated personality, commanding presence, and overall sincere demeanor gained him the respect of both my students and staff so much that he received a standing ovation at the close of his story!  Pamela Nadeau, one of our guidance counselors, said, ‘Nick’s presentation to our seniors was high energy and exciting.  His message about perseverance and hard work was motivating for our seniors about to graduate!’”

    Holyoke High School
  • “Your inspirational and motivational message is exactly what our youth needed to hear. You see, our youth think that they are destined to remain in Holyoke and that there aren’t any other options for them. You opened their eyes and ears with your adventures.”

    Holyoke Safe and Successful Youth Initiative
  • “The ultimate message, that there are many paths to success, and that pursuing your passion is the most important goal in order to achieve happiness, was well-delivered, and exceptionally well-received. I recommend Nick highly to anyone who wants to get this message across to an adolescent audience.”

    The MacDuffie School
  • “The students loved his message and they flocked to him when he visited the cafeteria during lunches to interact with the students…Nick will deliver a positive message to your student body, and the students will be engaged in the presentation and afterward.”

    Minnechaug Regional High School
  • “[Nick] also explained how you need to be persistent because you will fail many times before you succeed…”

  • “We were initially impressed with Nick’s enthusiasm, communication skills and professional demeanor, but what stood out most was his ability to relate his message to our kids. Once they started listening to how he got to be on the show ‘Deadliest Catch’, they were stumped that he wasn’t a fisherman all his life. He proved to them that hard work and believing in yourself will allow you to succeed in life…Nick is an exceptionally hardworking, top-performing professional. He has my highest recommendation…”

    Boys & Girls Club of The Berkshires
  • “Nick, or Sunshine as some people know him, effectively engaged his audience of teens, and was able to carry out his message in a fun and meaningful way. It is not easy to keep a group of teens interested in something for a long period of time, but Nick was able to do this with ease.”

    Pittsfield Family YMCA
  • “This inspirational, humorous man gave me the speech of my life. I learned so much about following my dreams and never giving up.”

  • “Mr. Tokman is an enthusiastic speaker who demonstrated a wonderful rapport with people of all ages. He is driven by his passion to meet with success and impressively presents that passion to his audience. Mr. Tokman will definitely inspire.”

    Beatrice H. Wood School
  • “When Mr. Nick told us his story it was probably the first assembly I have not fallen asleep in. It was not only interesting to learn his story but I also learned not to ever give up.”

  • “[Nick] was energetic and was able to get his message across to the kids in a way which they listened. I would recommend him as a motivational speaker; his enthusiasm and personality sold his message.”

    Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy
  • “Nick had stopped in to my office looking for an opportunity to get involved with our programs. Right from the opening hand-shake, Nick’s passion and self-drive was very evident. After getting a chance to listen to Nick talk about his experiences on the television series Deadliest Catch and how he got there it became quite evident why he had come to visit me on that particular day, he was chasing down his next big dream.”

    Mass Appeal Coffee
  • “Nick’s presentation was funny and inspiring and the kids absolutely loved him.  He shared his story from his beginnings in Western Massachusetts through his journey to Alaska and eventually becoming a star on America’s Deadliest Catch.  His story is one of hard work and perseverance and students were able to relate to his ‘regular guy’ persona.  His humble unassuming attitude resonates with kids.”

    West Springfield High School

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