Note: My 2008 profile of BHHS Lacrosse player Nathan Forrest for The Beverly Hills Courier
By Chris H. Sieroty
BEVERLY HILLS – Nathan Forrest was in eighth grade looking for something to do between football and soccer season, when his older brother, Sam, suggested playing lacrosse.
“I tried it and immediately fell in love with playing lacrosse,” Forrest told The Courier following a recent game against Downey High School at Nickoll Field. “It’s a great sport that’s creative and really physical. It’s become my favorite sport.”
Forrest, a junior, tallied 67 goals and 28 assists for Beverly Hills High School during the regular season. As a sophomore, he scored 54 goals and registered 26 assists for the Normans.
An outstanding sophomore season brought Forrest a lot of attention from college coaches and invitations to play for traveling teams and attend blue chip lacrosse camps.
He was asked to play for the Hollywood Starz and earned an invite to Jake Reed’s Blue Chip Lacrosse Camp. In August, Inside Lacrosse magazine named Forrest the 24th ranked junior in the country. In June, Forrest is expected to attend Nike Blue Chip Senior Lacrosse Camp held at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, near Baltimore.
Normans’ head coach Tim Ray described Forrest as one of the best players on the West Coast. Hofstra, Loyola and Delaware are currently recruiting him to play lacrosse.
“It is unfortunate that he doesn’t have the level of competition out here that will help him get better,” Ray said. “When you can play on a team where you aren’t the best player on the field, that is the time you get better. I’m sure some of the camps over the summer will help him take that next step.”
Scott Witkin, a former Division 1 coach at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., and now the head coach at Downey, said Forrest has the “talent to be as good as he wants to be.”
“He has what it takes to be successful at the next level,” Witkin told The Courier after an 11-6 loss to Beverly Hills.
Forrest was expected to sign a letter of intent before his senior year begins in September. When he does, Forrest told The Courier he would give up playing football and soccer to concentrate on lacrosse.
“When I commit, I’ve decided to drop football and soccer in my senior year because I don’t want to get hurt,” he said. “Lacrosse is what got me to the next level.”
Forrest, as a junior, played linebacker, wide receiver and even quarterback. He had five receptions for 47 yards and one touchdown. In a 28-26 win over Santa Monica (Oct. 19) he got his chance at quarterback, completing two passes for eight yards.
On defense, he averaged 5.3 tackles a game, twice during the season against Mira Costa and Morningside he tallied 12 tackles.
“He’s a good athlete,” Beverly High head football coach and athletic director Carter Paysinger said. “If (we) lose any of our guys there is going to be a period of adjustment. Nathan has to do what is best for him.”
His dedication to lacrosse was proven after a Nov. 2 football game against Morningside.
Beverly Hills won the Ocean League game 28-27, after Forrest and David Saedi kept Monarch running back Brian Nam from converting a two-point conversion with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. When the game was over, Forrest was rushed to Los Angeles International Airport to catch an overnight flight to Baltimore to attend a lacrosse camp.
“I didn’t even get a chance to take a shower after the game,” he said. “I thought I’d at least get a chance to take a shower and sleep for a couple of hours when I got there, but I had to attend the camp (first thing in the morning).”
Forrest played lacrosse all weekend before flying back to Los Angeles to be in class on Monday morning.
“It’s was a lot of work, but worth it,” he said. “(Lacrosse) has opened so many doors to great schools who are interested in me.”
All the attention does have consequences, according to Ray.
“We are thrilled to have him playing for us and for him and the team getting the press,” he said. “The downside is other teams feed off that hype and try to use it against him. The second he slips up or makes a mistake you can hear the other team and their fans getting on him with the ‘over rated’ comments.”
The Beverly Hills High School lacrosse team has been extremely successful in three years as a varsity program. Ray said in the program’s first year, the Normans reached the final four in the playoffs, which was followed by a loss to Palos Verdes last year in the Bay League Championship game.
In last year’s inaugural title game at the Home Depot Center, Santa Ana Foothill rebounded from a five-goal deficit and held on in the closing seconds to beat Palos Verdes, 11-10.
“This year we are back in the Bay League Championship and we are looking to bring it home,” he said.
The CIF Southern Section doesn’t conduct official playoffs for lacrosse, or any other sport, unless 20 percent of its member schools participate. This year’s championship game between the Orange County and the North Division boys’ champions is scheduled for May 9 at Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills.
On Saturday, Beverly Hills High School will host the 2008 Southern Section North Division playoffs. At 5 p.m., Beverly Hills will play Loyola, followed by Chaminade against Downey at 7 p.m.
The winner of the Beverly Hills, Loyola game will play Palos Verdes in the semi-finals Monday at 7 p.m. at Beverly High. The finals are scheduled for Wednesday at Mira Costa High School.
Ray said he sees interest in the sport continuing to grow in Southern California as junior varsity teams prepare players to make the switch to varsity. Palos Verdes High School’s junior varsity hasn’t lost a game in two years, while Mira Costa has one of the better junior varsity programs, he said.
“Once the fall and winter coaches at Beverly (High) realize it is a great spring sport for their athletes to play in order to keep in game shape, we’ll be behind those programs,” Ray said. “We’ve been fortunate over the last few years to be still riding off our strong middle school program from a few years ago, but it has been fading.”
He said the school’s junior varsity team hasn’t won a game in two years, while the middle school program fielded a team this season with only eight players.
“Right now I’m worried about our future success of the program,” Ray said. “Unless we have the support and encouragement from the football and basketball coaches we’ll be playing catch up for years. I’m hopeful that with the help of the other coaches we’ll be able to tap into the athlete talent pool at the school and continue to build our foundation at the school.”