“It doesn’t really seem like 40 years,” Forsh said. “I know it is because I can count but I obviously love my job or I would not still be doing it.”
Forsh was first hired as a physical education teacher at DCHS in 1973 fresh out of college after going to a job fair his senior year. It was the first offer he received and he jumped on it.
“They called me first, I interviewed, and they hired me,” Forsh said. “It’s that simple. If another school had called first I would have went there. At the time all I was looking for was a job.”
In 1973, the hiring for a risky one for the late DC principal Dr. Robert Nelson Shigley. Douglas County, one of the largest schools in the state at the time, was a much different demographic than it is today and the country was not far removed from the Civil Rights movement.
“There was tension, but I never sat around and thought about it,” Forsh said. “I just did what I had to do.”
Forsh wasted little time working himself into the mix. In his first year, he took over as the de facto coach for the JV girls basketball team and started coaching the track team, which at the time was girls only, midway through the season after the previous coach left. He also coached the boys only cross country team.
Those early years could best be described as “busy”. At the time, DC was on a double session schedule. Douglas County would have classes in the morning and then Forsh would coach teams from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and then teach the second session afterward.
In 1980 Forsh was named the head coach of the varsity girls team, making him the first black head coach in any varsity high school sport in the county. Again, Forsh said that was not something at the time that went through his mind, but he did say there were some who took issue with the move, but not many.
“People that knew me had no problem with it,” Forsh said. “I tried to be fair to everyone and push them all equally hard.”
At the time of the change, Douglas County had not had a winning season in girls basketball since the modern game was established in 1975. Another reason for the early struggles came from the opening of Lithia Springs High School in the same year, a fact that Forsh said not many people know about but he is old enough to remember.
Forsh as head coach immediately paid off as that 1980-81 team finished the season with an 11-10 record.
“We did better than people expected us to do,” Forsh said. “I remember the boys coach at the time telling me that he did not think we would win a game.”
The Lady Tigers continued to play well and managed to have several winning seasons in a row. DC won the subregion crown for the first time in the 1981-82 season with a record of 16-8.
In the 1986-87 season, the team was hurt by the opening of Alexander High School.
“A lot of our players lived in their district,” Forsh said. Two of our starters went to play for them that first year and they had a decent season because they had our players.”
Forsh added that it took two or three years to rebuild after that but even during the down time, he always saw the brightest of the situation.
“One of my best memories coaching is from from one of those years,” Forsh said. “We had a team that did not win but six games. There was not a lot of talent, but they were in the game almost every time and they gave everything they had every night. They were small, not very athletic, but they were good kids.”
Forsh did rebuild the program quickly and his teams are nearly a threat every season for a region trophy. Forsh had his best season somewhat recently. His 2010-11 team started the season 30-0 before losing in the semifinals of the state tournament.
“We had six seniors that season and four went on to play somewhere in college,” Forsh said.
Girls basketball isn’t the only thing that Forsh has made better over his time at DC. Forsh helped start both the girls track and cross country team’s. The girls track team was established in his second year as track and field coach in the 1974-75 school year. That first team found success quickly with one athlete placing in the state tournament. In the 1978-79 school year, the first girls cross country team was established.
Forsh also led the charge in getting a track build on the school ground after coaching the track and field team for 19 years without one. In 1987, then Booster Club President Eleanor Miller sent out a wish list for the coaches and Forsh half-jokingly put $100,000 for a track. That got the ball rolling.
After many fundraisers, selling deeds to people for parts of the track, and help from the city and county, DC began building their track, which was opened in the 1991-92 school year.
Forsh himself donated $500, which he says at the time was not easy with two young kids at home. He also helped do volunteer work, cutting down trees, digging ditches, putting up the fence, whatever he could do.”
The first meet on the track came in the 1992 season and Forsh remembered it being a very big deal for the kids but unfortunately the meet had to be cut short due to rain. However, that did not damper the excitement.
Forsh has donated not only his time to the sports program at Douglas County but also in other areas where the school has needed someone to step up. He routinely drives the bus for different events. He even drives the tour of the county for new teachers. In 2012, Forsh took 60 cadets to the funeral of Sgt. Major Joseph Scott.
“I believe in doing whatever needs to be done,” Forsh said. “When someone asks me to do something, I do it. I grew up in Cherokee and still call that my home, but this is really my home.”
In 1986, Forsh was named head of the PE department, a title he still holds today. This past basketball season, Douglas County High School honored Forsh for his 40 years of service on Senior Night. On that night, Forsh was showered with gifts and had a chance to see many of his former players.
“It was very moving and there is one thing I wish I could have said after thinking back on the moment,” Forsh said. “I should have thanked them for giving me the opportunity to work with them. It is never about the recognition. It is not about me, it is about them.”
Forsh hopes that his legacy will be remembered as someone who cared for the kids. As for retirement, he says that he would like to work for at least five more years.
“Five might be enough, but something could happen from now to then that might change all that,” he added. “I jokingly tell them every day that if someone makes me mad I can go home now and be happy.”