On Feb. 1, three Lake Forest High School football players announced their college decision with a cake and celebration at West Campus. Not overly demonstrative, but it was quite different from the approach of another Scouts athlete.
All Michael Shipp did was sign a sheet of paper. In his kitchen.
“I handed it to my mom so she could fax it,” said Shipp, a senior soccer player for Lake Forest. “Then I went to school."
- See attached video: Learn more about Shipp as he shows off one of his unique talents in this Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Patch “4 Questions” video.
The low key tactic is in contrast with the high visibility university the 5-foot-11, 155-pound Shipp is committing to play for this fall.
The Scouts’ captain in 2011 will be taking his talents to Notre Dame, a school of Knute Rockne, a perennial Top 20 soccer program and a national fan base as polarizing as any election year politician. Shipp’s bloodlines in South Bend run as deep as the legendary Four Horseman.
His brother, Harrison, is a sophomore at the school. His mother Kathleen attended the school as did his maternal grandfather, John Welsh.
“You either love or hate them. It’s one of those schools,” said Shipp, who made the state’s all-academic team. “We were die-hard. When I had the opportunity to go there, it made me want to go even more.”
While Shipp’s deep ties to the school made his decision a fate accompli, not so with his Scouts’ teammate, Ian Forlow.
Go East Young Man
On Oct. 4, Lake Forest was playing one of its biggest games in recent memory. Hosting long-time rival and state giant Libertyville, a win would all-but-clinch the school’s first conference championship in 22 years.
Forlow, a 6-foot, 175-pound strong-footed midfielder, defined the game and the season for the Scouts.
With Lake Forest leading 1-0 in the second half, Forlow gathering the ball from about 30 yards out at the center of the field. He dribbled forward, then hammered a left-footed shot that didn’t slow until it found the upper right corner of the net. The shot provided the winning margin for the Scouts (a 2-1 win), who went on to win the North Suburban Conference’s Lake Division. The goal against Libertyville also showcased the rarity of Forlow’s talents.
“Whenever we needed something special, we looked to them (Forlow and Shipp) to provide that moment of brilliance,” said Rob Parry, Lake Forest’s head coach. “When you talk to college coaches they ask, ‘can they do that something special?’”
One of the colleges was the University of Rochester (NY), a school of 4,500 students located in upstate New York. A non-scholarship Division 3 college, Rochester is in the same conference as elite academic schools such as the University of Chicago and Washington (St. Louis). The school is a fit for Forlow, who was recruited by higher-level soccer programs like Loyola, Eastern Illinois and Valparaiso, as “some of those schools that have great soccer, but aren’t great schools," Forlow said.
“There are a lot of kids like me (at Rochester) who could have gone Division 1 but chose it because academics are out of other school’s leagues,” said Forlow. “It will be hard as its a phenomenal school.”
There are no bloodline ties to Rochester like his teammate Shipp to Notre Dame. However, his future college coach, Chris Apple, initiated contact with Forlow more than two years ago. Then, on his second trip to the campus in the early fall of last year, he witnessed a surprising connection between the team and the student body.
“They almost filled their football stadium with soccer fans,” said Forlow, which was about 2,000 students, more than the entire enrollment at his high school. “It was a great atmosphere. It felt right.”
Bloodlines Run Deep
At Notre Dame, Shipp will never experience playing in a full football stadium. The Irish have their own soccer fields, the luxury of being a well-funded private institution. But he will have the benefit of another Shipp not only on campus, but in the locker room. Harrison Shipp is Michael’s older brother by two years. Already an accomplished player in South Bend, he was the team’s second-leading scorer this past fall with five goals and two assists.
Filling his big brother’s sizable shoes is not a concern of Michael’s. Instead, it’s Harrison who has flipped those expectations, going out of his way to ease the transition for Michael.
“We know that we are going to be spending the next two years doing similar things in the same place on the same schedules, and he’s been showing me the ropes,” said Shipp, who plans to study medicine. “To talk to somebody who has already done it, that gives me quite an advantage.”
And not just for him. Think about what having two kids at the same college can do for parent’s weekend. It can be done in one trip.
“My grandparents live in Indiana. My mom picks them up on the way to games next year, so she’ll be able to come down and see a couple of games and see us,” said Shipp.
While their future plans now include diverging paths, all roads will lead back to Lake Forest for Forlow and Shipp. No one knows how their college careers will play out, but their legacies as Scouts are sealed, as winners.
“It’s a reflection of the work they put in since they were 5 or 6 years old,” said Parry. “They were our go-to guys.”
Said Forlow: “To finish my career the way I did, all the hard work definitely paid off.”
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