New NHS Head Football Coach Justin Roden Aims to Take Millers to Next Level

Photographer: Ron Wise

Football has always been much more than a sport to Justin Roden.

“I had some very humble beginnings — my parents didn’t have a lot of money,” Roden says, looking back on his childhood years. “Football was a good escape for me — a way to help me get through some things.”

For this reason, he’s dedicated his life to coaching young men out on the gridiron. After leading East Central High School to an IHSAA 4A state championship in 2017, Roden has now moved on to his new role as head coach of the Noblesville High School football team, who kicked off their season in August.

Growing up, Roden was granted many opportunities through football that he may not have had otherwise.

“I wasn’t the smartest kid in school, so the resources that football provided for me were really important,” Roden says. “We didn’t have anyone in our family ever go to college before, and both my brother and I were able to be college graduates, which was a really big deal in our family.”

Now, Justin and his brother Jay are still both involved in football. Jay Roden is currently the defensive coordinator at La Salle High School in Cincinnati.

“Football really helped mold us into fathers and husbands, and that’s kind of the message with the kids now in Noblesville,” Justin says. “I’m trying to emphasize to them that football really was much bigger to me than winning. It was a way for me to be a better person.”

The head coaching job at Noblesville High School was appealing to Roden for many reasons. First of all, the area was one where he could see he and his family thriving.

“When I went to go check things out, I quickly discovered that the community is beautiful,” Roden says of Noblesville. “The community is growing. It’s a pleasing mixture because you have the reservoir and the parks, but then you turn around and have all the modern stores and you’re close to Indianapolis. So for my wife and kids, those boxes all got checked. Right away, even before I could consider a football move or a job move, those had to work.”

The Noblesville faculty also made sure that Roden, his wife, and his two children felt at home in Noblesville too.

“During the interview process, the second time I went to Noblesville, they asked me to bring my wife and kids,” says Roden, who has a 16-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. “I had been on plenty of interviews, and no one’s ever asked me to bring my wife and kids. They took my wife and kids out to Alexander’s in Noblesville and showed them around. They showed my daughter and son around the school buildings. So they made them feel very welcome.”

Roden was also quite impressed with the Noblesville High School athletic facilities as well.

“The weight room in itself is one of the best in the United States,” he says. “When you have a facility like that, a weight room like that, and a strength coach like Coach Clark, there’s nothing but the tools in the toolbox to win.”

In addition to all of this, Roden is simply looking forward to a new challenge.

“I took East Central to the highest point,” he says. “I’m still ambitious. I want to do something different. So going to Noblesville and taking on the challenge of a program that hasn’t had a winning season in over a decade is more exciting to me than anything else. What better way to lead my legacy.”

Although he knows it may take a while to get Noblesville High School on the winning track, he ultimately hopes that his players will represent the city well each time they take the field.

“I told the kids when you leave the field, you should feel like you have represented Noblesville. Not yourself, but Noblesville,” Roden says. “I want the people of Noblesville to be proud of the effort, integrity and toughness of my players.”

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