By Karinna Gerhardt
On June 5th of 2015, beloved Roosevelt coach and alum Forrest Ward passed away at age 57. The cause of his death is marked as lingering health complications from a car accident nine years prior.
For 23 years, Ward coached the Roosevelt basketball team, and recently returned to the school as a football and track coach. Four months ago, his dedication and widely-acknowledged excellence in coaching, leadership, and high school athletics brought Ward’s induction into the Roosevelt High School Hall of Fame. Ward still holds Roosevelt’s 110m high hurdles record for track. He was loved by teachers and student athletes alike, and the loss of his kind and inspiring presence will leave a hole in Roosevelt’s athletic community.
Sophomore Rory Hayashi was coached by Ward for both of his years playing track and football. “It’s just kind of hard to believe that one day he’s smiling at you and giving you advice and the next day he’s in the hospital, and that was the last time I got to be coached by him,” Hayashi explained. Ward’s health started taking a turn for the worse during the 2014-15 track season. Still, Hayashi remarked on how he was “working to the end.” Hayashi remembers Ward as the sort of coach that motivated his athletes with his passion and kindly attitude. “He wanted everyone to be the best they could be,” he recalled.
“No one ever thought poorly of Forrest,” Matthew Nelsen remembered, Roosevelt math teacher and football coach of four years. “There was no one that I ever met that had any reason to hold a grudge or be angry with him. He was very supportive, very positive, and people gravitated towards him because he was so comfortable to be with.” Ward was unique, in Nelsen’s eyes. “He portrayed kindness better than anyone I’ve ever met,” he recalled.
A memorial for Coach Fo (Ward’s nickname) will be held on Monday, June 15th at 7 p.m. in the Roosevelt gym. All are welcome to pay their respects.
Featured Photo: Ward stands on the sidelines with his athletes at a game. Photo complements of Rider Football.