By Evan Lappen | 10.12.17
Zack Forro should be on campus preparing for Notre Dame College’s next rugby match, but instead he is in the Caribbean with the Ohio National Guard for ongoing hurricane disaster relief. Juggling school, rugby, and service is difficult, but for Zack, it’s another day in the life.
Like many US players, Forro picked up rugby late, starting his senior year at Mentor High School outside of Cleveland, Ohio. However, it wasn’t until he joined up with the Guard that he began to love the game.
“I didn’t fall in love with rugby until I was able to experience the camaraderie it caused when I was able to captain a deployment team in Kuwait,” Forro said. “We were lucky enough to be able to practice with the Kuwait National Team to help boost public relations in a non-military manner through rugby.”
Even before Forro joined the National Guard, he was being recruited in high school by NDC coach Jason Fox. He saw something special in Forro. “He had the desire to exceed and do well. You can see it in his eyes. You can see that he wanted to pick it up a level.”
With the GI Bill in hand, Forro’s next stop was NDC in South Euclid, Ohio and he has been there to see the maturation of the program. Fox also has seen a maturation into the man he has become. “When he got to NDC, Zack really picked up his intensity and love for the sport. He really became a leader and through the Ohio National Guard, Army, and NDC, he has turned into a tremendous athlete, leader, and just a great person.”
His maturation and development as an impact player hasn’t gone unnoticed to people outside of NDC. Starting in 2015, Forro has been a part of multiple All-Army and All-Military squads and was a member of the All-Army at the Rugbytown 7s in late August in Glendale, Colo.
“In 2016, my orders didn’t get approved to go play with them in Rugbytown,” Forro explained. “This year was when I finally got to step back into that gorgeous stadium and showcase how much I’ve grown over the past two years against some of the best players in the country and even the world.”
That experience at the Rugbytown 7s caught the attention of USA Rugby scouts and Mike Friday, who invited him to Chula Vista in early September.
“My experience at Chula Vista was very humbling and surreal,” Forro said. “Playing with that caliber of athletes, coaches, and facilities has always been the goal. Actually getting called up for a look was one of the proudest moments of my life so far. The experience I gained in just a short week was something that I’ll never forget.”
Once back from Chula Vista, the 2017-2018 season has had a rocky start. After rolling his ankle versus Davenport, Forro missed the Penn State match along with teammates Marcus Tupuola and Cian Grendon. However, he was back for NDC’s epic takedown of Army on September 24.
Forro and the rest of NDC were looking to build on the momentum of the Army win, but as it turns out, the recent weather catastrophes may make the memorable win over Army Forro’s last. He got the call on the Wednesday of Army week that his unit, the 137 Signal Company, would be shipped out to the U.S. Territories on a humanitarian mission. Not many details were known which includes how long he will be away from school.
“Hopefully, I will be able to return for this semester but there is no guarantee,” Zack said. “School work is going to be difficult because communication will be very limited because of the situation the people are in there. All of my teachers have been extremely supportive of my situation and some even have me doing research and presentations that relate to the class on the work that I will be doing.”
Even with deployment on his mind, Zack was the glue the team needed to stay focused on the end goal during the Army game. “He was the inspirational leader saying that we were still in the game when we were down 26-12,” Fox stated. “He played against Army as a leader and he didn’t show that he had that on his mind. He is a soldier on the field and off the field.”
The immediate future is uncertain for Forro, but his ultimate future is bright. He hopes to be able to graduate with his class and possibly play one last match with NDC. Anyway, USA Rugby will be seeing more of Zack Forro in the years to come.