Back to school sparks memories for all of us: shopping sprees for fresh pencils and Composition notebooks, saying goodbye to summer girlfriends, feeling nervous for the start of classes, etc. It's the most anticipated (and dreaded) transition for students, but for sneakerheads, the new semester also represents an incredible opportunity: the chance to set the tone for the year by impressing your classmates with a dope pair of shoes. The importance of this moment, whether actual or imagined, cannot be overstated and is rightfully the source of plenty of anxiety. Some years, it's an unadulterated win with a high that rides all semester-long, but others the day winds up being another stumble on the embarrassing road of adolescence.

To ease a bit of the first day tension, we've collected stories from prominent members of the sneaker industry about what going back to school was like for them. For Jeff Staple, his first days inspired his career in sneakers. For Buddy Teaster, CEO of Soles4Souls, they were the perfect opportunities to satisfy real needs. For DJ Clark Kent, they signified a very real experience of earning his own way.

No first day back to school ever quite lives up to how we imagine it (good or bad), but as these stories demonstrate, that’s a universal experience.