Damian Forrest: when confidence is key

Samantha Vise, Staff Writer

Confidence is the key to success, according to Damian Forrest, a member of the University of North Alabama men’s basketball team. Forrest is one of the team’s captains and has been having an exciting season. 

“This season started off really well with wins over teams with good basketball programs, such as Morehead State, Ole Miss and Jacksonville State,” said Forrest about the team’s season so far. “We had a strong start to the season, but we’re in a bit of a slump right now and we’re trying to get out of that.”

Forrest credits his success on the court to his confidence. 

“[My season] is going good. I’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately, but overall I’ve been doing a lot better,” Forrest said. “ I’ve been a lot more confident in my game and the coaches have put a lot more confidence in me, and with that I’ve been able to really engage in what I’m doing.”

One of Forrest’s most exciting games this season was when he led the Lions to a 71-63 win over Alabama State on Dec. 7. He scored a career-high 20 points and rounded out a double-double performance with 11 rebounds, according to roarlions.com.

“Part of why I’ve been able to have such a good season is because not only my confidence has gone up, but my coach’s confidence in me has gone up,” Forrest said. 

Forrest believes the responsibility of being a team captain has helped him thrive this season. His coaches have deemed him someone the team should look up to, along with captains Daniel Ortiz and Will Soucie. This spotlight has encouraged him to be the best he can be. 

“I’ve stepped into more of a leadership role for the team this season,” Forrest said. “I think that’s been good for my personal growth and part of why this season is going so well.”

Forrest is a junior majoring in finance, although academically he is a senior. He will graduate this semester with his bachelor’s in finance and continue to play basketball at UNA while he gets his master’s degree. 

“I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with my degree yet,” Forrest said. “After I graduate, I’m going to play professional basketball overseas in Europe. I plan on being there five to ten years; it’s going to be nice to see the world. After that, I’m not sure what I’ll want to do in the realm of finance – that’s more of a bridge I’m going to cross when I have to adjust to getting back to a normal life in the United States.”

One thing he does know for sure is that his future will always include basketball. Basketball was a big part of Forrest’s childhood and has stayed with him his whole life. 

“My mom was a college basketball player for Cornell,” Forrest said. “Well, she was going to be but couldn’t because she became pregnant with me. Since before I could remember, I had a little basketball toy and a mini kid-hoop. I was put on rec and travel teams as a kid, and then I played in high school. Basketball is a part of my life and a part of my family’s life – I always knew I’d end up playing basketball somewhere.”

Originally from Fort Collins, Colo., Forrest transferred to UNA in 2021 from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where he had begun his collegiate basketball career in 2019.

“I had a really good high school career and then went to UM Dearborn,” Forrest said. “After that I went to school in Tennessee and now I’ve been here for two years.”

Forrest transferred after the UM Dearborn team canceled their 2020 season due to the coronavirus. He transferred to Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tenn. temporarily while he looked for other options. He then found his home at UNA within the men’s basketball team. 

“[UNA] was the best fit for me in terms of school and coaches,” Forrest said. “Out of all the schools that sent me offers, it was the most appealing.”

As a forward, Forrest has played 19 games so far this season and has averaged 8.5 points per game. 

“The confidence put in me by the coaches and how much trust they have in me has really affected my season,” Forrest said. “They want me to be an integral part of the team beyond just rebounding, which has traditionally been my role. They want me to be a primary defender and a scorer and a rebounder – they’re putting a lot of trust in me, which has made a big difference [in this season].”

He can tell this season is different from past ones because of how much trust his teammates and coaches have in him. 

“They chose me as one of the captains, which goes to show they’ve put a lot of trust in me,” Forrest said. “That’s big time, and probably a part of why I’m having such a good season. I’ve always had the ability to do great, but confidence is such a big part of it. If you’re not confident, you can’t be good at what you’re doing.”

Forrest believes the team as a whole has been doing really well due to the bonds and friendships made on the team. 

“We have a really well-connected team this season. Everybody is friends with everybody, everybody hangs out outside of basketball and talks to each other,” Forrest said. “We all joke and crack on each other, we have a lot of fun with each other. We’re all super close and connected, no one has any beef with anybody. Everyone is friends – on and off the court. I think that’s why this season has been so different not only for me personally, but for the team.”