Being on the bench with dad is good for Forbes

Joe Avento • Dec 16, 2018 at 7:46 PM

When Christopher Forbes takes orders from his boss these days, they come from a familiar voice — just in a different tone.

Forbes is serving as a graduate assistant on the East Tennessee State basketball team, and his boss, Bucs head coach Steve Forbes, is also his dad.

The job is a natural progression for the younger Forbes, who wants to become a college coach someday. After four years as a student-manager — one at Wichita State and three at ETSU — Forbes earned a promotion this year after graduating in May with a degree in sports management.

“Working for him has been different,” Forbes said. “To me, he’s Dad, but in the office or at practice, he’s Coach Forbes. I know he likes having me around because he can trust me to get certain tasks done that he asks for. But obviously sometimes there are moments where he’s going to talk to me like he’s my dad in front of other people.”

Forbes handles some of the team’s social media and helps out at practice in addition to assisting Frank Davis, the team’s director of basketball operations.

Being in his fifth season of watching his dad in action, the 23-year-old Forbes has picked up a few things about the old man’s style.

“I love the way he coaches defense,” Forbes said. “He always talks about how he recruits offense and coaches defense.

“The biggest thing he’s shown me is how to be resilient. He’s had to overcome a lot of obstacles in his career. To get where he is now is pretty awesome. And the relationships he’s formed with his players and staff is something I want in my life.”

During his freshman year at Wichita State, Forbes watched his dad coach under Gregg Marshall.

“I got to see what Gregg Marshall does,” Forbes said. “What I learned from him was how to get guys to play harder than you thought they could play.”

A coach’s life can be nomadic, and the Forbes family is no different. They’ve lived in Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Illinois, Texas, Florida and Kansas in addition to Tennessee.

Ask Forbes what he likes about his current home and he laughs.

“I like how you can get four inches of snow and can get out of school. I’ve never seen that before,” said Forbes, whose girlfriend, Annie Sandelovich, won the Miss Watauga Valley pageant and qualified for the Miss Tennessee pageant. “I also like the way ETSU and the community have welcomed my dad and our family. They gave my dad an opportunity to be a Division I head coach. Them having faith in him and my family, and the way that they’ve welcomed us, has been awesome.”

Forbes says Coach Forbes isn’t that much different than Dad Forbes.

“He brings a lot of the same teachings to home as he does with his team,” Forbes said. “Family is very important to him. It’s tough for him to always be home for us, but we understand the kind of schedule and demands that he has.”

Who knows? If the younger Forbes continues to progress in his career, he might end up back at ETSU someday and there could be a new Forbes in town.

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