May 16, 2017 10:18:58 AM
Jason Forrester admits he didn't know a thing about soccer when he started coaching it at Caledonia High School.
But Forrester didn't allow his lack of knowledge about the game to hold him back from learning everything he could about it. As a result, he attended clinics and spoke to other coaches to help him gain insight about the game and how to teach it to his players.
Fourteen years later, Forrester has had more than his share of success as girls and boys soccer coach at Caledonia High. In that time, he has helped numerous student-athletes earn opportunities to play soccer in college. Forrester said Monday the ability to help his players realize their goals was one of things he was most proud of as he discussed the reasons for his decision to resign as the school's girls soccer coach effective May 23.
"I am going to spend more time with family," said Forrester, whose wife, April, teaches at Caledonia Elementary School, and who has two kids, Ayden, 9, and Emilee, 16. "I thought about it (three weeks ago) for a good little while, and it was (a hard decision), but, in the end, I made the right one because I have been trying to teach (his players) when I have been with them that family is one of the most important things and you have to make sure you take care of family before anything else."
Forrester said he plans to spend more time with his kids and will be involved as much as he can. He said Ayden is involved with Columbus United, the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority's competitive soccer club, so he wants to be around to help her and watch her play.
Forrester, who will continue as offensive and defensive line coaches for the Caledonia High football team, has held a variety of roles at the school. In addition to serving as athletic director, Forrester worked as boys and girls soccer coach before giving up the boys position about five years ago. Since then, his girls soccer teams have been regulars in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) playoffs. This past season, Caledonia went 12-7 and lost to New Albany in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Forrester credited his players for "taking ownership" of the program and building on each class to maintain the team's success.
"We were consistent each year, and you knew when you came to play us it was going to be a tough game and not be an easy win and that you were going to have to work your tail off to beat us," Forrester said.
That is the same mind-set Forrester used to educate himself about soccer. He said everything he learned about the game fueled his desire to learn more so he could aid the development of his players. Looking back, Forrester is proud of the part he played in making soccer fun and building all of Caledonia High soccer to its current place.
"I am just a big kid, too," Forrester said when asked why he relates so well with his players. "In coaching, you have to manage everything and teach the game the way it is supposed to be played, but you also have to try to have some fun when you can because that makes them want to be there. It is not entertainment, but you try to help them enjoy what they're doing because the more they enjoy what they're doing they more effort they're going to put into it."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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