‘She’s always helpful and encouraging’: Soccer coach honored for kindness
HANOVER Co., Va. (WWBT) - Amanda Forester is a soccer coach with one goal in mind: to enrich the lives of her players and her community.
Her commitment to this endeavor started with heartbreak, but she’s channeling that pain into purpose.
“She’s just an amazing person, and she really coaches for all the right reasons. Like, she genuinely wants to help these kids both on and off the field,” said Caryn Palmgren, a parent.
Caryn has watched her son, Mitch, develop into a better goalkeeper under Forester. He has spent long hours working on his footwork, quickness, hand-eye coordination and mental toughness.
The 15-year-old Hanover High School student is on JV and has his eyes set on playing varsity.
“She’s always helpful and encouraging, and she’s always like, she’s very personable,” said Mitch.
His mom echoes Amanda’s willingness to give back.
“She never puts herself first. She’s either putting the kids first, or she’s raising money for the community to help those in need, or she’s helping her nephew. I mean, she’s just always helping other people,” said Caryn Palmgren.
Forester is the founder of the Richmond Goalkeeping Academy, and “Keeper Wars” is her biggest fundraiser. Kids from all over the country come to Richmond to show off their skills and raise money for local non-profit organizations.
“The first year, we raised $2,500. In the 2nd year, we were just shy of $4,000. Then, in 2020, we raised about $7,800, and this year was the biggest year yet. We raised $10,000,” said Forester.
Forester also leverages her friendships with other professional soccer players to inspire the next generation of players.
“Those that are playing at a higher level are there to help them and paint that vision that I had as well, and give them something to look forward to,” said Forester.
It’s commendable work, but what you don’t see is the heartbreak that it took to get here.
“My brother and I were like twins, and losing him was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever experienced,” said Forester.
Amanda’s brother, Nate, died in a car accident. Nate’s son Garrick, Amanda’s nephew, was born three months later.
Amanda was now able to honor a promise she made to her brother years ago.
“We told each other that we’d always be there for each other’s children. We’d always raise each other’s children together and teach them different skill sets. That was just a promise I made to him, and I was going to fulfill it,” she said.
When the holidays rolled around, and the loss of her brother was too much to bear, Amanda decided to give to others.
“One of the things that I wanted to really do is take my mind off myself and just help give back to somebody else, and that’s how I really got through the holidays,” she said.
It’s something that continues to this day. In December, Forester and her players handed out gifts to children stuck in local hospitals.
Now, it was time for Amanda to get a gift of her own. Caryn and Mitch surprised Amanda with NBC12′s Acts of Kindness, which came with $300 and a $50 gift card to Mexico Restaurant.
“As a parent, she is such a positive role model to all the kids that she coaches. I’m just very grateful for that,” said Caryn Palmgren.
As for little Garrick, or the “Lil CEO,” as they call him, he can be found on the field driving his little Mercedes, wearing his sunglasses and a hat, coaching up the team.
Amanda said she would continue to give her time, energy, love and compassion to the kids she coaches and the lives she impacts.
“Because in the end, I’m just going to; I’m just going to be blessed, and directly from that by serving you first and putting you first,” said Forester.
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