Gaining Grounds – Forman follows mentor's footsteps

Gaining Grounds – Forman follows mentor's footsteps

A prospective student-athlete visit was all it took for a pair of milestones in Brady Forman's life.

Former Manchester University men's soccer coach and campus groundskeeper emeritus Dave Good knew there was something special about Forman the first time he met him. So, besides telling him he'd like to have him on the soccer squad, he also indicated he'd like to have the Hastings, Mich., native be part of his grounds keeping student work crew.

"[Brady and I] can both remember the lunch we ate together during his campus visit," Good reflected. "Over the course of our conversation, I found out he was working at a golf course in the grounds keeping area. He asked me about campus jobs, and it was a perfect match.  He was on our campus grounds crew through his four years as a student."

Forman's attraction for the grounds keeping life was a natural one. His dad, Kirk, is the single maintenance/grounds/snow plowing employee for the town of Woodland, Michigan, where the family resides.

"I used to sit on the tractor with dad as he was working [in town]," Forman reminisced. "My grandma has a picture of me with a cast on from a playground injury but still riding with and helping dad out."

The footsteps connection that Brady has to his mentor at Manchester University is similar to what his father had in getting into the profession.

"[Dad] worked at a golf course after high school," Forman noted. "The head maintenance job [in Woodland] opened, and the rest is history."

"Brady's background, due to what his dad does and also taught him through his young years, gave him a lot of experience [coming to MU]," Good said. "We had him working the backhoe and tractor which is pretty rare for most of our students. He's the kind of person we wanted on our crew.  He's a good person, very dependable, and has a great work ethic."

As Brady's opportunities grew during his first semester, his mind began to create a picture of a possible career.

"I threw an idea out [to Dave] about a career [after graduation]," Forman said with a smile. "I figured it was a long shot, as he was going twice the speed of any [of us work-study students] with a bigger workload."

Dave was thinking along the same lines as time went by.

"Here's a guy who could step right in and do this," Good said. "With Brady's interest and my ideas of retirement becoming more and more of a possibility, it seemed like the perfect fit. I wanted to make sure to hang around and give him the best chance [for becoming the school's groundskeeper]."

Sitting in the campus maintenance offices in August, the process has come full circle for Forman and Good. Forman has the title of lead groundskeeper, while Good phases himself out of the university over the next two years.

"I'm only supposed to be working 60 percent," Good said with a glint in his eyes.  "That might be a challenge for me over the next two years because of how much I enjoy what I'm doing.   However, full retirement could come earlier if fun and interesting opportunities develop."

Forman understands the reality of his mentor readying for retirement and plans on gaining as much knowledge as possible.

"Bar none, [Dave] is the best mentor a guy can have," he admitted. "He has had so much confidence in me throughout my collegiate days and now into my professional beginning. It's been humbling the things he's allowed me to do and the opportunities he has set up for me.   I have huge boots to fill as I try to model myself after a person who goes from sun up to sun down and doesn't miss many days of work, but I'm ready to do so."

Like the tradition of Forman following in Good's footsteps in grounds keeping and soccer, Brady has also followed suit in riding a bike to work every day.

With a smile, he says, "My bike is parked right outside the maintenance building next to Dave's."

Continuing to follow his mentor's path … much as he did throughout his undergraduate career and still does today.