When one thinks of a Macalester College student the thought that frequently comes to mind is how successful this young man or woman will be once they head off into the real world. A Macalester education is as prestigious as attending Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, and the chances of having a highly lucrative career seems all but certain. It is one of the great benefits of attending such a highly prestigious institution.
This is for certain, but what doesn’t necessarily cross the minds of many is the incredible humanitarian work that a larger number of the students commit themselves to, especially those on the football team. Many of these students will be executives in Fortune 500 companies one day and will be captains of industry, but there are a large number that have chosen a path toward helping to change the world so that it is a better place; less concerned with how many dollars they can earn, and more focused on how many lives they can help to improve. No one represents this principle better than senior defensive back Forest Redlin.
Looking for Challenges
Forest Redlin was raised in Tempe, Arizona, where he loved playing both baseball and football. He attended Tempe Preparatory Academy, a small high school in the southwest state, where he played football for his four years at the school.
He loved football and enjoyed playing it greatly, but his real focus when he graduated was to find the right school that fit him academically. In fact, continuing his athletic career was not really on his mind.
“Originally I had applied to Macalester without the intention of even playing football. I went to a liberal arts high school and applied to a lot of liberal arts universities throughout the country. So my focus was primarily on academics.”
His decision to become a Macalester College student was an easy one. He wanted a great education and wanted to be tested to see how far he could push himself academically. There is no better place for that than the St. Paul school, and this became a primary reason why Forest wanted to come to Macalester.
“I had attended a small school in high school, and I really wanted to take on a great challenge. I know that this school can be quite challenging academically, but that was exactly what I was looking for.”
During the application process, the football coaches noticed that he had played football in high school and inquired of him if he wished to play for the Fighting Scots. Because football had been such a big part of his life, he reconsidered his decision and opted to join the team. He knew that it would only add to the challenge of succeeding at the school, but his love for football made it too difficult to say no.
“I just love the game and really wanted to keep playing. Yes, Macalester is tough enough on its own academically without the extra activities, but I really wanted to be a part of the football program. This is such a unique community, a unique team. I wanted to be a part of that.”
Football wound up not being enough for Forest. He also opted to join the baseball team as well, only adding to the workload he was about to take on.
It only made sense that he would do so. Forest had been a star in High School as a baseball player and so spending some time on the Scots diamond seemed like a natural fit as well. He was a four-year letter winner in high school and was the team’s Most Valuable Player in 2012 and 2013. He was named an All-State pitcher in 2013 and received All-Conference honors for his performance on the mound and in the outfield in the same season. Combined with the fact that he was a four-year letter winner in football and the team’s captain in his senior season, it was clear that he had the skills to succeed on both fields even if he was attending one of the most rigorous academic institutions in the country.
Adapting to New Challenges
Forest had been a quarterback in high school, but the coaching staff asked him to make a dramatic change, moving to special teams and to the defense. He had played defense in high school as well, but he was about to become a full-time defensive player. Not only was he having to take on a huge academic course load, but now he had to learn to play a different position as well as understand the Scots scheme. It was going to be a lot of work, but Forest Redlin has never been one to back down from a challenge.
“It was just a situation where I just did what was needed to be done. For me it was just kind of a mental thing; could I possibly, with a little tutelage, be able to play quarterback in high school for a couple years and then come here and play an entirely new position? When I got to college I realized that one of the reasons I really liked to play football was the opportunity to strap up and really hit somebody. I thought that this was ideal for me.”
Not only did Forest willingly take on the new position, he was looking for ways to make a contribution as a freshman. This meant approaching his coaches and asking what he could do to make any kind of contribution.
“So my freshman year I asked (Defensive Coordinator) coach (Marshall) Mullenbach what I really needed to do to be on the field and he told me it would really be on special teams. There was an injury or something and it really made sense for me to move over to safety and I haven’t looked back. I enjoy the other side of the ball, and so a lot of times it allows me to really hit someone. When I played quarterback I felt like I had to temper myself, but when I play safety I can just go in and let myself go. On defense you could just kind of unleash yourself a little bit, and let yourself go. It’s just concentrated mayhem.”
In 2013, Forest primarily played on special teams, appearing in six-games and being a key member of the team’s kickoff coverage unit. In his sophomore season, he would play in all 11-games, recording 15-tackles and making an interception. While not seeing a lot of time on defense, he was starring for the Scots on special teams. In Macalester College’s first season in the Midwest Conference, Forest was named to the North Division All-Conference team for his special teams play. He had asked his coaches to give him a chance to help the team and he rewarded them for their faith in him.
Following the 2014 season, several key seniors graduated, and there was about to be a lot more expected out of Forest Redlin for the 2015 season. He understood what was being asked of him and was ready to not only be a big contributor on the field, but to also take on a much bigger leadership role as well.
During the season he was starring on defense. In 10-games, Forest recorded 60-tackles which was second on the team. He also forced two fumbles and added his second career interception. That performance earned him Second Team honors in the North Division. He was showing his incredible academic prowess as well, earning Midwest Conference Academic All-Conference honors as well.
The loss of key seniors not only meant that others needed to step up to take on pivotal roles on the field; it also meant that the team had a void in its leadership as well. This was a situation where Forest realized that he needed to step up and help to ensure that the leadership of the team was not lacking. Taking command was a bit out of his comfort zone, so he found ways to set an example and demonstrate leadership both on and off the field.
“I like to embody the lead by example model. Being helpful when necessary is great as well. I think the most important thing about Macalester is that we have a lot of good people who are great ballplayers, great students, and just good people. I knew that I should just be a model of that on the field and off the field. I recognize how privileged of an opportunity it is for us to be able to play football and give back, so in that way I really try to make my leadership more about excelling. I take my academics very seriously; that’s one of the things I take very seriously. It’s okay to come here and love football, but you also be part of the Macalester community, and this is what I want to demonstrate as well.”
Putting the Needs of Others First
Entering his senior season with the team, Forest Redlin was ready to take on a bigger role with the team. The Fighting Scots have a talented group of defensive backs and Forest was going to be the leader of that group. However, he made a decision to continue the humanitarian work that he has been involved with the past few years. That led to him missing some of the pre-season camp and meant that he was behind some of those younger players. This led the coaching staff to start others ahead of him, putting him in a backup role.
In this day and age, most players would be offended and spend the season pouting, but that is simply not within the character of the senior. He understood that this could mean that he would be losing his starting spot, but felt that the humanitarian work was much more important. Instead, he embraced his role as a backup and a key special teams player and the coaches rewarded his maturity and leadership, making Forest the special teams captain. Head Coach Tony Jennison thought that the senior was a perfect choice.
“Forest is a player with such great character and is a proven leader. He earned that spot as one our captains. This is a unique situation this year in that we never had permanent captains before, but with the group that we chose this season it was a great fit. He was a perfect choice to set a standard for what we expect from future captains.”
If anyone is surprised that he would take the risk of losing his starting spot in this way, then they simply don’t understand that heart of Forest Redlin. He loves his teammates very much and feels a great sense of loyalty to them, but he also wants to take the knowledge and experiences he has and help to make the world a better place. That has led him to be a member of MacCARES, to work for Team IMPACT, including attending their Game Day Gala event, and to study in areas like Rwanda, Paris, and Germany. Forest even went to Rwanda to help figure out a way to make refugee camps so that they can service people more effectively while ensuring that the overall health of the camp is not threatened. He truly has a heart to help and to make a change and that is seen in the many organizations for which he is involved.
Molding for the Future with a Shout Out to the Past
In about eight months Forest Redlin will be leaving Macalester College looking to make the world a better place. The economics major has added a lot of minors along the way so that he can be as well-equipped as possible. He wanted the most he could get out of his education because there is such a passion to be a difference maker.
“I feel like everything that I do at Macalester is really about molding myself for whatever I may do in the future. I think people can sometimes think too hard about that. They want to get in line with a certain path. I want to do everything I can take on, kind of like the embodiment of a liberal arts education. I want to be involved in all kinds of different programs, maybe find your passion, your inspiration somewhere in some kind of project you’re working on.”
Macalester College has helped to mold Forest into quite an impressive young man. The kind of man that most would wish was the kind of candidate we had running in this year’s election. However, the foundation of who he is was started many years ago by the two people who helped to bring Forest into this world.
His parents have been two of the most influential people in his life and, despite the fact that they are divorced, they have both ensured that their love for their son was always on display. They have set a great example for their son and he is inspired greatly by them.
“My parents are the two most inspiring people in my life. Both of them have been very successful in the work that they do and have made career shifts. Going to see them going through the process of applying for jobs they have even asked me to help them review their applications. To see them doing this and to be a part of that professional atmosphere has really been cool. I talk to my mom a lot. She calls herself my professional advisor. My dad and I are very close and do great things together. I feel very fortunate to have the parents that I do.”
The Macalester Fighting Scots are fortunate to have a player like Forest Redlin on their squad. He is the very essence of what having a heart for his fellow man is all about, even when he is leveling a hit against that fellow man. He has shown a great commitment to helping those who are in some of the most unimaginable circumstances anyone will find, and to pouring out his heart to ensure that they have a chance at a new life. Meanwhile his football team is in the hunt for their second Midwest conference title in three seasons.
A year from now Forest Redlin is not really sure where he will be or what he will be doing. What can be sure is that he will be somewhere where he is making a real difference. With a heart like his, does anyone expect anything less?
By Robert Pannier