TAWAS CITY – A simple line of advice ultimately led to a career choice for 1986 Tawas Area graduate Chris Boden. The advice? “You should become a coach.” The source? Hall of fame Tawas football coach Dick Look. Boden took that advice to heart, as he has been a fixture on the sidelines since 1991.
“The first time I thought of it was when I played at Tawas,” he said. “We were doing a drill and I must have done a good job because coach Look said, ‘you should become a coach’ after I finished the drill. After I got my bachelors degree (1990 at Saginaw Valley State University) and started working a real job, I missed football. That is when I had a conversation with coach Look.”
That conversation with his former coach shaped his life dramatically.
“I told him that I wanted to get into coaching and he made a call and got me a volunteer position at Central Michigan University,” Boden said. “Coach Look was very instrumental in my drive to want to be a coach and in helping me initially get in at CMU. Just like anything, he had some connections and wanted to help one of his former players. I really appreciated it and I try to do the same thing with any of my former player now.”
Boden spent the 1991 season as a volunteer assist, before CMU’s head coach Herb Deromedi hired him as a graduate assistant, where he worked with defensive backs coach Denny LaFleur (father of Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur) for two seasons. Boden was also able to finish his masters in Physical Education during this time.
His next stop was as quarterbacks and receivers coach at Urbana University in Ohio (1994-95), coached quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs at Valdosta State (1996-2003), where he coached under Hal Mumme and Mike Leach (founders of the air-raid offense) and served as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M Commerce in 2004.
“I have a deep desire to learn more about the passing game in football, I saw that Valdosta State was throwing it like crazy, so I applied for their open QB coach position and was eventually hired,” Boden said.
From there, Boden was the head coach at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He guided the Wolves, a Division II program from 2005-09.
“I love college football and coaching in it for 21 years,” Boden said. “My dream was to be a head coach and progress up to the highest levels that I could obtain. Running a college program was a fantastic experience. It is basically like being the CEO of a business. It was exhilarating and challenging. I had many fantastic times and many difficult times.”
Next up was a stint as offensive coordinator at Ferris State University in 2010 and 2011.
From there his attention turned to the high school ranks, taking a job as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Tift County High School in Georgia from 2012-14.
Since 2015 he has been quarterbacks coached quarterbacks and been the offensive coordinator at Rome High School, in Georgia.
“I decided, with a young son, to get into high school coaching,” Boden said of his decision to coach at Tift. “Our head coach (at Tift) then took the head coaching job at Rome and brought me with him.”
Boden has helped Rome win state championships in 2016 and 2017, which included winning 40 games in a row. In 2017 his squad scored 50.4 points a game, setting the state’s all-time scoring record with 756 points.
“As you coach through a season, successful or not, you really bury your head and work,” Boden said. “You really don’t get to enjoy the victories or feel sorry for yourself in the defeats, during the course of the season. Winning the state championship is the ultimate goal. Achieving it was like a dream. It took a lot of work, preparation, and luck; They all had to meet up. I feel lucky and blessed to have been a part of both of those championships. It is truly special to help bring something like that to a community that has never achieved it before. For several weeks afterwards, especially the first one, you feel like you are floating on air with this euphoric feeling. I am proud and driven to work to do it again.
“I love coaching and teaching,” he added. “I teach in the weight room at the high school in addition to my coaching of football. I love living in Rome. This is a great place to raise my 10 yea- old son. I will eventually look for a head coaching position, but it would have to be a special place to get me to leave here.”
While his career path has led him well outside of Tawas, Boden, who was a defensive back and quarterback for the Braves, remembers this area in quite the positive light. Boden still has several family members in the area.
“I could not have grown up in a better town,” he said. “My parents moved to Tawas as I entered kindergarten and I went through all of my schooling there. My parents and the town of Tawas truly shaped me. I believe that is where I developed my work ethic and commitment to success. I loved the people there and have such fond memories; little league baseball, cruising Newman Street, walking on the dock, fishing with my dad and playing on some great football teams.
“My parents (Bob and Eleanor Boden) still reside in Tawas and I visit every fourth of July. My sister (Cynde Martin) is a teach in Tawas and has raised her family there.”