The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 16, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN: Forsythe’s story one of resolve

MORGANTOWN — This is a Christmas story with a sports twist, a story that were it not real would surely have been written by Charles Dickens.

It comes courtesy of Caroline Atkins, a professor at West Virginia who runs a program entitled “Athletes Speak Out,” a course in public speaking for athletes, who tell personal stories, some that literally can bring a tear to your eye, stories that always end in a lesson that has to be learned to be successful in life.

As personal as they are, many of them are quite similar, experiences with drugs or grades or death of a friend in a shooting or a family member. They are tales of kids almost gone bad or kids who had someone lead them down the right path, be it a brother, a mother, father, teacher or coach.

Some, though, rise above it all, to have that certain something extra that turns it from a speech prepared for a class to one that simply exudes class.

This year’s was delivered by David Forsythe, a soft-spoken, humble Ohioan who is a freshman center on Bob Huggins’ men’s basketball team, a player struggling for an identity of his own on the court, recently battling back problems that could retard his progress.

But it is not a basketball story at all, nor is he really the central figure in the tale he told.

This is the story of a father and son relationship, one that had much to overcome, yet one that has worked out.

  It begins for David Forsythe when he was a baby living in Medina, Ohio, with his mother, who had divorced from his father, Patrick, when he was still a babe.

There came a day during Forsythe’s second year that … let us let Forsythe explain.

“One day, when I was about two, she dropped me off at my grandparents — and never returned,” he tells the children at the schools in which he speaks.

His grandparents contacted his father, living in Las Vegas with an uncle and still in school, so it was a year before he could send to have his son brought out to him.

Oh, did I mention, Patrick Forsythe had been blind since he was 16.

So there they were, the two of them, but let us return to Forsythe’s speech.

“Because of his work and the lack of job opportunities, we moved a lot. When I finally was a high school freshman, I had been in seven different schools,” he said.

 It was a nomadic experience, a difficult one.

“Growing up, I never really had a stable environment and never really had a lot of material things; we were always in financial trouble,” David Forsythe explained.

But it didn’t matter.

“My dad has always been there for me and cared for me throughout my life,” Forsythe stressed.

They made do with what they had.

“He made sure that there was always food on the table and clothing on our backs, but that was about it,” Forsythe said. “As a result, I always wanted to go to my friends’ houses because they had things to do….like video games, basketball hoops and ping pong tables.”

The most difficult part, the part that hurt the most was that the two were not able to bond through athletics.

“My dad’s disability prevented him from ever being involved in sports with me,” he said. “He was never able to come to the gym and play or rebound for me.”

This was difficult to live with and it was something that Forsythe never really let out.

“I never said anything but it always hurt and still does knowing that he could never do things like play catch, or more importantly, watch me play basketball,” he said.”iii. Even though my grandparents attended when they were able to, my dad has never seen one of my games. To his credit, he attended every game and sat in the front row, waiting to hear the announcer say my name.”

Basketball was the escape for Forsythe, once he discovered it in the eighth grade, although he didn’t take it seriously until his junior season.

His father emphasized that he could not attend college without a scholarship, and that hit home with him.

He had not been performing well in the classroom but decided to change that, turning a 1.8 freshman grade-point average into 2.7 upon graduation.

He did the same in basketball, informing his coach he wanted to work harder, hitting the weight room, working out all summer. He began traveling with AAU team and played in New York and Las Vegas. With exposure, came interest. You cannot teach 7-feet and Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and WVU came calling.

He chose WVU and says it was simple choice.


“It had a family feeling,” he said.

In the end, that was what he was looking for, the family structure, the closeness with the coaches, the warmth of teammates.

He has been living the dream is father — yes — envisioned for him.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos