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Forsberg forging ahead

Local 14-year-old, who has auditory disorder, is a welcome addition to local Pop Warner football unit.

August 19, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Cole Forsberg is a strong 14-year-old boy.

His mother, Catherine, used the adjective Thursday night at Costa Mesa Pop Warner football practice. She was talking about her son's physical strength, which has him playing offensive guard and defensive tackle for his Midget football team.

Perhaps more impressive, though, is Cole's mental fortitude.

It's Cole's first year playing tackle football, but he fits in well with his team. The Midget squad scrimmages Saturday afternoon, part of Costa Mesa Pop Warner's opening day ceremonies at Jim Scott Stadium.

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Cole learns quickly on the field, impressing his head coach Preston Patterson. Those who watch from the sidelines still don't really know everything Cole has overcome.

At the start of the season, Catherine told the coaches that Cole responds better to visual cues than audible ones. This is not because he is a typical teenager who doesn't always pay attention to adults. It's because Cole has auditory processing disorder, a condition that studies have shown affects up to 5% of American children.

"He has a real hard time getting all the directions in a big group," Catherine Forsberg said. "When you have auditory processing, you'll hear like three out of seven words in a sentence. You have a hard time processing information. Once the information goes in, you figure out how to respond and what to do with the information. Well, Cole has a short circuit there."

Cole, who is going into the eighth grade at Ensign Intermediate, is a very bright kid. He does especially well in math and science in his specialized academic program. But he's also very quiet, as he deals with speech issues as well in conjunction with his APD.

On the football field, it's OK to lead by example. Cole used to train in mixed martial arts, but now he won't let anything get in between him and his football. He wants to play at Newport Harbor High next year, where his older sister Caragan is a junior.

His other older sister, CJ, is now 23. Growing up, Cole was the only male in the Forsberg household. His father, from whom Cole takes his middle name of Steven, died when Cole was 3. Steven Forsberg passed away in December, 2000 due to complications following an elective surgery.

Catherine instantly became a single mother.

"My whole world changed at that moment," she said. "I've raised the kids by myself. It's not easy to start over, but you know what? It's all about them and their well-being, so we're doing good."

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