“It always feels good to come home.”
When Steve Forbis was playing Mighty Mites football in Republic in the 1970s, he dreamed of being a football Tiger.
“It meant something. It was a big deal to be a Republic Tiger, and that’s just what you grew up wanting to do,” he remembers.
Eventually, Forbis would be one of the best Tigers ever to wear the black and orange. He was an all-state linebacker on the fearsome defense that contributed to Republic’s first undefeated regular season.
“Steve was always an inspirational leader and always high-intensity,” says Ed Miller, the defensive coordinator who would go on to become Republic’s most successful head coach. “He didn’t even like giving (the opponent) a first down. I think the other kids rallied around that.”
When his playing days ended at Republic, Forbis originally hoped to go to college and return to coach his alma mater. But his coaching career almost never got started because of advice he received from his own coaches in college.
“Those guys said ‘No, you don’t want to do that. You’re too smart for that. Go out and major in business and go out and make some money.’ I took their advice. I majored in business…and took a job as a credit manager at a finance company. I hated my job. It just wasn’t a good fit for me.”
Forbis returned to Republic to work under Miller, who had ascended to the top job. “He was in business and he couldn’t stay away from football,” Miller recalls.
“I remember my first contract: $1,088,” Forbis says. “I thought, ‘Man, this is nuts. I can’t believe these people are paying me over $1,000 to come out here and coach football.’ I was on top of the world.
“I wanted to make it long term here. When that didn’t happen, I really didn’t entertain the fact that I would ever come back.”
Circumstances led Forbis to North Kansas City as an assistant coach, and eventually back to southwest Missouri as head coach at Springfield Central for nine seasons. And then, through a series of coaching changes, Forbis found an opportunity to come home. He became an assistant under Kurt Thompson in 2011, and has been in Republic ever since.
“It always feels good to come home. It was great being there on a Friday night with my wife and my girls all there. It was awesome,” Forbis says. “I’m glad that whenever I retire, I’m going to retire from Republic.”
- Led the Republic defense in 1980 and 1981, its first two undefeated regular seasons
- First Team All-State linebacker in 1981
- Academic All-American at Missouri Southern in 1984
- NAIA All-District in 1985
- First Team All-Conference in 1986
- Still the all-time single-season tackles leader at Missouri Southern, with 148 tackles in 1985