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January 5, 2024

Sign of respect for trailblazing coach

image_coach_2.jpgChester Forsh (73C) has been a commanding presence at Douglas County High School for 51 years, motivating generations of students to strive for excellence through his work as a teacher and coach.

Last June, the suburban Atlanta community celebrated the legacy of the Berry alumnus who made history in the 1970s as the local school system’s first black head coach post-integration by naming the street outside the high school in his honor. It was fitting recognition for an educator whose presence and example over more than half a century have benefitted students of all races.

Forsh, who experienced integration firsthand as a student growing up in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta, hit his stride at Berry, earning the nickname “Chet the Jet” while competing in basketball and track and field. It was during those years that he met the woman who would become his wife, the former Frankie Jones.

“I wouldn’t trade my time at Berry for anything,” he praised. “I loved the campus when I made my visit and still think we’re No. 1 [for beauty]. I don’t care what any of these surveys say.”

Fresh out of college, he accepted a job teaching physical education at Douglas County. He wasn’t hired to be a coach, but he quickly found himself in that role.

“I wound up coaching three sports my first year,” he proudly shared.

At a time when the color of his skin was enough to earn the ire of some, Forsh maintained a high standard for himself and his teams, ultimately earning success as a head coach in cross country, basketball, and track and field – all sports he still coaches today. He continues to emphasize doing things “the right way” while showing incredible loyalty to the school in which he’s spent his entire career.

And then there’s the impact he’s made on students, including one he never taught or coached who nevertheless reached out years later to offer thanks for brief words of wisdom shared in the hallway.

“That’s why we do what we do,” said the coach, speaking like a true winner.

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