Danville, Ill. (WCIA) —
One high school football team hit the field today for the first practice of the year. They were excited to be back on the field, but some things looked different.
Players had to wear masks and get their temperatures checked, but the biggest difference for these athletes, was that their head coach was not coaching them.
“It’s been real different. You know, Coach, that’s my man. I talk to coach almost everyday. We check in on him and everything make sure he’s good,” Larvelle Watkins, senior football player at Danville High School, said.
A few weeks ago, Danville head football coach Marcus Forrest had a heart transplant surgery. He first noticed he was having symptoms back in the fall. His cardiologist told him, if he didn’t get a new heart, he would die in about 4 months.
“They actually gave me a call and said hey we need you to get here as soon as possible. We found a match for you,” Coach Forrest said.
“It’s been frightening, but it’s also been, obviously been so far fantastic news,” Interim head football coach Mitch Thomas said.
Now as football season is right around the corner. The heart of this team, will not be coaching this spring.
“He brought me into the quarterback role. Like not having him here for my final year is pretty weird,” Eric Turner, senior football player at Danville High School, said.
Coach Forrest is on the road to recovery, but his goal is to get back on the field, doing what he loves, coaching his team.
“Working towards getting back out here. I know they have it right now, but my goal is to be ready for the summer to get ready for the fall,” Coach Forrest said.
He hopes his story inspires kids to never give up on and off the field.
“It’s one of the things we always tell our kids, that things are going to happen. It’s how do you fight through those things that are happening,” Coach Forrest said.
He hopes he can show them if he can overcome this, they can tackle anything.
“I want to be a light that you see that every time you see me you know coach fights. If he’s going to fight through some stuff there’s nothing that you should be able to come against that you can’t fight through,” Coach Forrest said.
One of his player’s said he’s surprised the doctor’s found a heart big enough for his coach.