Football season is considered a tough and time-consuming act that shapes young men’s lives. Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is considered the same, and with both taking a significant commitment, it’s not surprising that many who are interested in both end up focusing on one or the other.
That didn’t stop four Forsyth Central High School seniors from pursuing both.
Bryce Malone, Warren Walker, Matthew Dees and Garrett Nash finished the football season as part of a team with a 7-4 record that made the state playoffs for the first time since 2001. Now, all four have also earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
“For a lot of the time, for me, it was Scouts on Monday nights once a week and football every other day during the afternoons,” Dees, who said he is either going to the University of Georgia or the University of North Georgia said. “When we would have practice on Mondays, as soon as we would get done with practice, rush home, get cleaned up and go to Scouts, so it was how much dedication are you willing to put forth for either program. It’s just about the urgency of getting to the next thing you need to do.”
Walker, who plans to attend UNG and join their Corps of Cadets program, said he also took on a leadership position in Scouts this year “so I had to be on time to every single meeting.”
“It was kind of a struggle for me to get there,” he said. “Practice ends at 6:15 [p.m.] I had to go home, shower, be there by 7, so it was a little bit of a rush.”
While most Eagle Scouts don’t get the honor until they are seniors, Malone and Nash finished theirs by their sophomore years. Malone said that meant a lot of weekends and off-time went to Scouting.
“The second half of Christmas break my freshman year, I worked on my Eagle Scout application the entire time,” he said. “I knew I had that time off and was away from school, and had a break from football in the offseason. That’s when I got as much done as I could.”
It should be noted that the four weren’t all in the same troop nor went to the same location for Scout meetings.
Dees and Walker are members of Troop 62, which meets at First United Methodist Church, Malone is a member of Troop 457, meeting at Midway United Methodist Church and Nash is a member of Troop 205, meeting at St. Brendan's Catholic Church.
The rank of Eagle Scout also comes with a project that gives back. Their projects can be seen at the school, including a pavilion built by Nash, and other areas in the community. Walker’s project combined football and Scouting.
“For my project, I actually built wooden football sleds, so [the team] used those over the summer,” Walker said. “I finished them last March, and they’re out there somewhere.”
The other players, all offensive linemen, said they got more use out of it than Walker, who played defensive back, but Walker said there were “a couple of times where I regretted it.”
While there is a lot of difference between football and Scouting, leadership is a key factor in both.
Malone, who plans to attend Georgia Tech, said there are many ways to be a leader but he felt what he and the others learned in Scouts contributed in the team’s success this year after going 0-10 as juniors.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we had as many Eagle Scouts in our senior class this year that turned things around,” Malone said. “The leadership that we had in the past, I think we were already able to see what didn’t work and what we needed to improve on, but I think our class was also very strong with leadership comparatively speaking to previous classes. I think all of us being Eagle Scouts gave us the skills in leadership, and I think people looked up to us.”
Nash, who earned a football scholarship with Reinhardt University, said he believes the skills he learned as an Eagle Scout will stay with him through life and, hopefully, rub off on the players coming up behind him.
“What Scouts teaches you is to be a quality human being, and I feel like we brought that aspect to the football team,” Nash said. “Most of our senior class, we’re all good guys, we’re all quality people and that shows. People look up to quality people and kind of mirror what they’re doing, and we’re hoping that leads onto next year and having more success on the football field next year.”