For much of J.P. Forester’s life, he awoke to his dad already hours into his day, working as the CEO of his own company, Fortech Products outside of Detroit.
Hard work and dedication were on display every single day in the Forester household. For J.P. and his three siblings, they saw first hand what it took to successfully build something from the ground up.
So when Dan Chemotti of the University of Richmond lacrosse program called J.P. in the fall of his senior year at Brother Rice High School with an invitation to be a member of the inaugural class of the Spiders’ lacrosse program, Forester had somewhat of an idea of the kind of hard work that was going to be needed in order to have success.
“I think we all knew that it was going to take a lot of hard work from all of us in order to achieve the kind of success we all wanted,” Forester said. “Knowing and actually doing are two completely different things though. There were plenty of conversations among our class and plenty of calls home during that first year, not knowing how much more we could take. But I credit my mom for encouraging me to push through that first year.”
Forester is one of 14 student-athletes that have laid the foundation over the past four years of a program that has now been ranked in the top-25 a total of 23 times over the past three seasons and competed for a conference championship every season with their another opportunity this weekend.
“It’s been really hard, there have been some really tough days for all of us, but to look back and see what we’ve built over the past four years is really rewarding,” Forester said. “This group will always have an extra sense of pride in this program because we were all there on day one, working and grinding together.”
Forester is no stranger to grinding it out, having worked in his dad’s warehouse during the summers growing up. He and his siblings worked on assembly lines and got the true understanding of factory life.
“Working in the factory gave us all a taste of what hard work and grinding it out really meant. I definitely think that has helped me along the way,” Forester said.
Lacrosse wasn’t always Forester’s sport of choice.
Living less than 20 miles outside of “Hockeytown USA”, he had no choice but to lace up his skates at an early age and grab his stick. Forester and his siblings all played hockey, starting as young as first grade.
During the winter, Forester and his siblings would help their dad build a rink in the back yard so they could play pick-up games against each other or bring in some of the neighborhood kids.
“We had some battles back in the day. We would make our sister strap on the pads and we would have two-on-two games, we’d compete against each other in just about anything,” Forester said.
Forester, who is the second of four children (Connor – 24, Brian – 19, Caroline – 19), gained his competitive edge in the backyard and it carried onto both the ice and the lacrosse field.
“I’ve never necessarily been the most skilled player on the field, but I’m always going to do whatever it takes to help my team win. I’m willing to do the dirty and I’ll go up against anybody. I guess, you can say I play with a chip on my shoulder,” Forester said.
“JP has always been a guy who’s given us an extra edge. He brings an added layer of toughness and really sets the pace for the rest of the team,” Chemotti said. “He’s done it through his career, when he brings that extra edge, he really raises the bar for his teammates and pushes them to be better.”
That chip on the shoulder, Forester admits, may come from the fact of being overlooked by so many programs across the country.
During his junior year at Brother Rice, Forester gave up his skates to focus full-time on lacrosse and try and fulfill his goal of playing lacrosse at the Division I level.
Entering his senior year, he had no serious offers, he was most likely headed to Indiana to play club lacrosse or just to attend Miami (Ohio) as a regular student with no aspirations of continuing his athletic career.
Chemotti’s phone call changed that.
Fast forward to May of 2017, Forester will leave the Spiders as the all-time leading scorer with 93 goals and 127 total points. He has 12 career hat tricks, including last week’s four-goal performance against Furman.
Guess you can say that hard work really does pay off.