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Introducing the new leader of the Lights

Andrew Rolin achieves a lifelong dream after being named Northern's new head football coach


December 22, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Andrew Rolin was named the head coach of the Montana State University-Northern football team Thursday. Rolin has been a player and assistant coach at the highest levels of NCAA college football.

Andrew Rolin may only be 30 years old, but in the college football coaching profession, he's not only already a veteran, he feels fully prepared to be a head coach.

Now, Rolin's going to get that chance.

Thursday afternoon, Rolin was named the new head coach of the Montana State University-Northern Lights. And, it's an opportunity he says was a lifetime in the making.

"This is an opportunity I've worked for my entire career," Rolin, who currently resides in Libby said. "I've wanted the opportunity to lead a program. To do it my way. To lead young men towards a winning culture, and to do it the right way. So I'm very excited about it."

And Northern fans should be plenty excited about Rolin. His stops in the coaching ranks have been at the highest levels, including at NCAA FCS San Diego, his Alma mater, FBS and Pac 12 powerhouse, the University of Washington, and FBS San Jose State.

His jobs at those schools also have him well prepared to be a head coach. He's worked as a graduate assistant on offense, he's coached running backs and wide receivers, and, he was a recruiting coordinator at an FBS program. And those are all things that give him the kind of credentials and experience to help lead Northern into a new era.

"I've treated every coaching opportunity I've had as a chance to learn and better myself as a coach," Rolin, who was the offensive coordinator for the Libby Loggers this past fall, said. "I've always made sure that, whoever I worked under, I held myself to the same standard as the guy above me. I've done that to prepare myself for a moment like this.

"So being a head coach has always been the goal," he continued. "It just came a little sooner than I expected. But I've prepared myself for this because I've always wanted an opportunity like this."

Rolin's mentors have also prepared him well. How could they not? He played for Jim Harbaugh, and he's worked for famed head coaches like Ron Caragher and Steve Sarkisian. In particular, Harbaugh and Caragher have been longtime mentors to Rolin, who himself was a standout quarterback at the University of San Diego, and they're two people who will certainly be excited about Rolin getting his first head coaching job.

"I haven't had a chance to talk with either of them yet," Rolin said Thursday. "But I know they'll be happy for me. Coach Harbaugh and Coach Caragher are two people who I just have so much respect for, and they're two people who have been so important to me, not just from a football standpoint, but in life. They've been great mentors to me, and they're a big part of who I am today, and where I am today."

And where Rolin is today is the head football coach of the Lights, a program that has seen its share of rough times in recent years. But that's one of the many reasons Rolin was compelled to pursue the position in the first place.

"I like a challenge," he said during his public interview in Havre last week. "And I know it's a big challenge, especially in the beginning. But I accept that. I feel like I thrive on challenges."

Rolin has seen challenges before, too. As well as adversity. During his playing years at USD, he lost Harbaugh to the Stanford Cardinal. At San Jose State, Caragher was replaced, and Rolin and the rest of the staff were replaced with him. His family has also gone though some adversity outside of football, which led him to Libby.

"This past year has really defined who I am," Rolin told Northern and Havre community members last Thursday. "Life has really turned for us. We decided to take a sabbatical from college football, and move to Libby (Montana) where my wife's father and mother live. And it's been a huge blessing. It's been amazing to come here and be in Montana."

And that move to Libby is ultimately how Rolin got to Havre. And while he says the challenge of leading the Lights into a new era is one reason why he was excited about the position, and the goal to be a head coach was another, he also sees a bright future for the Lights, on and off the field, and that vision compelled him to become the next head coach at Northern.

"It's the vision everyone at Northern has for the future," Rolin said. "It starts at the top. Mr. Kegel's vision and Christian Oberquell's vision, all of the administration here, from the plans for a new stadium, to everything on campus, the new diesel technology building, everything in athletics, all of it. Northern has so much going for it and the future is very bright.

"And I have that same vision for the football program, so I'm honored that they thought I was the right guy," he continued. "There's so much potential here, it just has to be tapped. You just have to light the fire and have a vision, and I have that with this program, and I'm excited to get to work."

Rolin will get to work right away, too. He says the next two months will be busy as he begins the recruiting process, while also putting together his coaching staff. There's also winter conditioning when current Northern players return from Christmas break, and spring ball is less than three months away.

"It's going to be a busy couple of months, a busy year really," he said. "I'm going to be wearing a lot of different hats right now. Recruiting is very important. I've got to get out there and get those relationships built up. At the same time, putting together a staff is also really important. I have a list of guys that I know and will do a great job if they come. Guys that will hold the same exact standards that I have for this program. So we'll see what happens with that. But it's definitely going to be a busy couple of months starting the process of getting this program to where it needs to be."

And where Rolin thinks the program can go is to the top. He said last Thursday in his public interview that no matter Northern's past his goals will never waver. He wants his players to graduate, he wants his teams to beat their rivals, he wants Northern to win the Frontier Conference championship, and he wants to bring a national championship to MSU-N.

For now, however, he's simply excited about the opportunity in front of him, for himself and for his family. Rolin is married and he and his wife Jessica, a former star volleyball player, and an accomplished member of the athletic world herself, have one daughter, and together, they are all excited about the next chapter in their lives - the one where Andrew is now a head coach of a college football program.

"This is an opportunity I've worked hard for my entire career," Rolin said. "I'm very fortunate for this opportunity to be the leader of the Lights. It's a great day for myself, my family, my wife and my daughter. We're very blessed and thankful.

"Now, it's time to go to work. Now it's time to go out and back up everything. I'm just really excited and I can't wait to get started."


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