Former CCCC coach remembered
Last week, Cloud County Community College lost one of a kind with the death of its first head basketball coach Larry Forsythe.
Forsythe coached the Thunderbirds from 1966 through 1975, compiling a record of 167 wins and 99 losses. His teams never finished lower than second in the Prairie Junior College Conference and he was the conference coach of the year three times. He also was inducted into the Cloud County Community College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
As a fan, sports writer and photographer, I watched all of the Thunderbird home games as well as many of the road games from the fall of 1967 until Forsythe left for Salina South High School after nine seasons at Cloud County. During all of that time I can't ever remember Larry making a substitution or calling a time out that I ever questioned, not that I would ever second guess a coach.
One of the most thrilling games I can remember during his tenure was against York College on the road. York opened with a tight zone defense which early on stymied the T-Birds. After calling a time out, Larry moved Speed Williams, his quickest player to the top of key to facilitate the offense.
Speed deftly passed the ball to his teammates and the T-Birds came away with the win, scoring 125 points in the overtime game.
Larry was known by many of his closest friends as “Turkey.” He told me that he got the nickname from L.L Edge, a legendary Kansas sports writer. According to Larry, L.L., who was working for the Ottawa Herald at the time, told the coaches that the young, gangly Forsythe kid flopped around like a turkey flapping its wings.
Larry was a great story teller which translated to his classrooms, where he made history come alive. He loved good philosophical arguments with his teaching colleagues at the college. I always looked forward to going to the college after a night game to interview him just for the chance that I might get in on one of the debates.
He also will be remembered for his exploits on the golf course. For a big man, he couldn't hit the ball very far, but could he ever chip and putt.
One of the most memorable stories which will be told over and over was the time we were playing in a two-day tournament at Smith Center. As we arrived we noticed a sign which stated a local bank was offering a prize of $200 for the first hole-in-one. The four of us from Concordia agreed that if one of us got a hole-in-one, we would split the prize money.
Lo and behold, Jim Drury knocked his tee shot into the cup on the first hole. We were all jumping up and down, knowing that we were all $50 richer. When we came back around to the clubhouse, Larry went inside to claim the prize money. Alas, the sign had been changed to read the first hole-in-one on Sunday would receive the $200.
Larry was livid. He confronted the tournament officials and threatened them with a lawsuit. We laughed all the way back to Concordia. I can't remember who won the tournament, it was probably Drury, but I will never forget the hole-in-one that caused such a ruckus.
Larry was always the organizer and spokesman for our group of about 10 guys.. Before we teed off on Saturdays and Sundays, he would say that he would take one of us as a partner and swing all combination, which meant that there would be at least $20 in bets riding on the outcome. One Saturday he picked Max Reeves. In those days we would probably have $5 in our pockets and $25 worth of bets out. Max, knowing that they were more than likely over matched, tried to get out of the bet. Larry was reassuring, telling Max, “we can't lose them all.” You probably guessed by now that they did.
Larry also loved playing cards. But that's another story.
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