Jack Forrest’s Journey From Unrecognized to Championship Hero

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by Jashvina Shah

Jack Forrest accidentally pushed one of the defenders in front of the net. Then he threw his gloves up too high, nearly losing them in the crowd. It was an accident, but still the strangest thing he’d ever done in a hockey game.

Those were the second and third things that happened.

The first thing that happened was relief.

“It was just like, thank god we didn’t lose that one, that we didn’t choke the lead,” Forrest said.

The last thing that happened was a celebration.

“After that it was pure elation,” Forrest said. “I was so excited for the team, for all of the hardship we had gone through that we had been able to [climb] over that and then win as underdogs. I thought that was pretty unbelievable.”

That was how Forrest processed being the hero for Brunswick’s first Large School championship in school history, scoring the golden goal with 11:30 left in overtime. The championship completed a season where they finished 14-10-4 in league play.

This wasn’t the first time Brunswick saw success. Over the past few years, the team has always floated near the top. Last year they reeled in 15 wins and made it to the Large School semifinals, where they fell 7-2 to Avon. The year before that, Brunswick racked up 19 wins and an Elite Eight berth, where they fell 9-2 to Avon. And the year before that, they accumulated 22 wins before falling to Thayer in overtime.

Forrest wasn’t on the team that lost to Thayer. He first played at a small private school before transferring to Brunswick last year.

But that didn’t matter.

“This year we decided that we weren’t going to be the team that lost handily, we were going to be the team that dished out the beatings,” Forrest said. “We ran into NMH who [we beat] 5-0 as the underdog. We beat Thayer, who most people thought we would never be able to beat.”

Forrest’s game-winning goal marked his 15th tally of the season, tied for second on the team. His 34 points, exactly double his output from last season, ranked third on the team. His performance led him to a commitment at Williams, where he will play next season.

“Without Brunswick, I wouldn’t be playing college. It was unbelievable last year. I got better at every practice, improved every day, got so much better and made so many strides in my game,” Forrest said.

“I used to be pretty skinny, pretty weak, so I got knocked off pucks easier. When I started going to Brunswick, a little before that, I got a lot stronger on my feet, a lot stronger on my stick, so it’s a lot harder to knock me off pucks. That helps getting the puck out of the zone as a center.”

Forrest also spoke with Babson, Hamilton, some other NESCAC teams, some Atlantic hockey teams and some junior teams. But Williams, the college his former teammate Nick VanBelle, and current coach Ron VanBelle, attended, was Forrest’s first choice from the start.

“I really fell in love with not only the campus, but the people and the program, and I thought that’s where I wanted to end up.”

Forrest, brought into hockey by his dad, who played at Wesleyan, has always been interested in academics since he was young. He emphasized academics during his recruiting process, intent on finding a place where hockey would make his post-sport life better.

“Hockey’s important, but your hockey career has to end at some point,” Forrest said. “I thought that if I could go somewhere with a great academic pedigree, then I’d be able to make my life better when I was older because of hockey and have hockey be a factor that helped me with a job. It helped me with becoming a prepared person for the real world.”

Forrest intends studying pre-med at Williams, so he can be a surgeon one day.

“I used to be really small and not very strong, so I was not really a highly-touted recruit or anything,” Forrest said. “I was never like a national camp kid or whatever growing up. I went to New England camp, but never really like a name brand camp so to speak. It was tough for me in the beginning, trying to get my name out there and make sure I got in front of the coaches who I wanted and the school that I wanted to go to.”

Forrest finally got his recognition. And a championship-winning goal, too.

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