Ricky Forrest

Class of 2011

When I first arrived to Michigan State’s campus in East Lansing in 2006, I immediately felt a sense that I belonged there. I was a high school State Champion and I was heading to the #1 University for College of Education in the country. I majored in education to become a teacher to make a difference in the world because helping others was a passion of mine. However, another reason I chose Michigan State was that the swimming and diving team felt like the right fit for me.

At the time, I didn’t realize that being a student athlete at Michigan State would provide experiences that taught me skills to become successful. Swimming is a sport where you learn to manage your time when you have school each day and practices twice per day. Swimming and Diving also made my teammates and I prepare to achieve success. There were times where I failed in the classroom and in the pool. The mental toughness my coaches and teammates taught me gave me the strength to fight through these tough times and persevere to succeed. During a swim invitational, Coach Gianiodis gave me some advice that resonated with me. ”This it not a four month season, but a four year journey.” That journey prepared me for the real world after graduation.

Every student hears their whole life that the real world can be difficult and is a “shock” for anyone entering it after college. I still use the values Michigan State swimming and diving taught me. Showing up to work on time, managing your priorities, showing grit during tough times, becoming a leader to help out your organization, and working with a team towards a common goal are all things any employer would look for when searching for the right candidate.

The memories I have from Michigan State swimming and diving impacted my teammates. We are a united front that wants the right thing to happen and to give the opportunity for young student athletes to grow into successful adults. My teammates at Michigan State to this day remain my best friends. I care deeply about the opportunities that are being taken away from current athletes and coaches. I hope the leaders at Michigan State can look at this situation more seriously and realize that this much more than a swim and dive program. It gives student athletes a chance to grow and become something bigger than themselves.

Today, I am a middle school teacher and a high school swim coach at Birmingham Public Schools. I teach my student athletes the same lessons that my team at Michigan State taught me because I want them to be successful one day, too.

Please consider this; what athletes do at Michigan State goes beyond their time in college. It is a journey that give every student athlete an opportunity to grow and become a success.