ATHENS – Gilbert native Garin Justice made a name for himself as an offensive lineman at West Virginia University back in the mid-1990s.
Now the Mingo County native is making a name for himself as head football coach at Concord University in Athens, W.Va.
Concord named Justice as the Mountain Lions’ 18th head coach on January 7, 2011. Justice went to Concord in January of 2009 as the offensive line coach and strength and conditioning coordinator. Justice played a prominent role in Concord’s remarkable turnaround after a 0-11 record in 2008.
Justice led the Mountain Lions to a conference title last year and a record of 7-4 in only his second year as head coach. The team was 7-1 in WVIAC competition
So far this season, Concord is 3-3, but they have been hit hard by injuries. “We’ve had a lot of injuries – 14 starters have been out,” Justice said from his office in Athens on Wednesday. “We lost our starting quarterback for the season because of a car accident.”
“We’ll keep plugging along,” Justice said of this year’s Concord team. “We have a lot of good players and hope we can finish strong and build toward next year.”
In 2009, Justice’s first year on the Concord staff, the Mountain Lions went 6-5. In 2010, Concord was 8-3, winning eight games in a season for the first time in 19 years.
Concord’s record-setting season led to the Mountain Lions earning their first NCAA Division II playoff bid. For his efforts, Justice was named the 2011 WVIAC Coach of the Year.
Justice is much busier now as head coach than when he was an assistant. “The overall responsibility is tougher,” Justice said. “I’m now responsible for 105 guys. When I was coaching the offensive line, I only had to worry about 15 players. Now it is the whole team.”
Another task that keeps Justice busy is recruiting.
“Before, I was only responsible for one area, but now I need to visit all of the families and meet one on one with each recruit,” Justice said. “It is a balancing act as far as the time, but it’s nice though. I enjoy meeting all of the families.”
Justice has also made big changes in his personal life. He was married to the former Casie Coughlin at Concord University on July 7 this past summer. They are proud “parents” of their dog Petey.
His parents are Gary and Phyllis Justice of Gilbert. His dad is a former principal and coach at Gilbert. His brother Gherig is a teacher and coach at River View High School. Gherig is also a graduate of Gilbert High School.
Justice tries to get back to visit his hometown during the off season. During the fall it is nearly impossible because of games, practice, travel and his hectic schedule.
His family tries to get to most of the Concord home games and some of the other away games that are not very far away.
Justice became known in his home state as a three-year starting offensive tackle at West Virginia University. He was captain of the 2005 Mountaineer squad that went 11-1, defeated Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and ended the season with a top-five national ranking.
That season, Justice earned All-Big East honors and was a Sporting News 2nd-Team All-American. He was also the Big East Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Justice graduated from West Virginia University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Regents degree and completed his masters from Florida State in sports administration in 2008. He went to Florida State to become a grad assistant with his former WVU position coach Rick Trickett.
Justice began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at WVU in 2006, helping the Mountaineers’ Dan Mozes win the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center. Justice then spent two seasons at Florida State as the offensive graduate assistant, offensive videographer, and weight room graduate assistant.
“It’s an honor to be head coach at Concord” Justice said “I have a great sense of pride to be able to coach at the university my family holds in such high regard”
But one thing is for sure, Justice remembers his Mingo County and Gilbert roots. “I will always remember my roots,” Justice said. “The values I learned being raised in Gilbert and the small town work ethic have helped me.”
“I was blessed to have such a great family and grow up in that community,” Justice concluded.