The nation’s eyes will be on a Cookeville High School Welding Instructor when he appears on The History Channel’s Forged In Fire Tonight.
That instructor is Jim Reilly and his path to forging weapons and armor all started as a quiet child who envisioned himself as the man arming legendary heroes. Reilly said whether working with students or on the national stage, there are no limits on where creativity can take you.
“Just go ahead and try it,” Reilly said. “When you love what you do and it holds part of you as you make it, everybody around you is going to love it just as much if not more than you do. You are always going to be your harshest critic.”
Reilly said the opportunity opened up while scrolling through Facebook, reaching out when he saw a casting call. He said there was an initial sense of relief when he was selected but the nerves are back before tonight’s show at 8:00 PM.
“I got right back to work, you need to keep your skills sharp and if you don’t use it, you lose it,” Reilly said. “I started messing with some canister Damascus because that’s a skill that I have not been able to master. It’s still an incredibly hard process, I did reach out to a couple of friends and we had a couple of nights where we just went crazy and tried all the stuff that we’ve wanted to do but never really had a reason to try.”
Reilly said being the metalwork expert he never had for students is what makes him happiest as a welder. He said he hopes that the same skills he tries to teach in the classroom will be on display when Forged In Fire airs.
“Being able to inspire these young people to express themselves and think outside the box,” Reilly said. “And see that light bulb moment when they actually understand what I’m trying to get through to them, it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
This won’t be Reilly’s first foray into television though, he has been featured on WCTE showcasing his work. In fact, Reilly will be at the Putnam County Fair every night this year displaying his skills in-person.