Joey LaRocque was a former linebacker drafted by the Chicago Bears in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft and played for the New York Jets as well. He played college football at College of the Canyons and at Oregon State. Joey is the Founder of RockSolid, the company that created RockSolid RS1 softshell helmets, the world’s first softshell helmet designed specifically for football.
What have you learned from sports that have helped you most in life?
Work ethic, how to be coachable, perseverance, how to handle adversity, problem solving, and being a good teammate
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Who helped guide you on your path to become a pro or college athlete?
I have several mentors in my life. #1 is my father. Everything I did on the field was for him. I wanted him to be proud of me. The other was my Youth/High School Coach Clay Matthews. I would have jumped on a grenade for him. I have/had so much respect for him on and off the field. My goal in life was to do what he did.
What is the greatest moment(s) in your sports career and what do you recall most about it?
Jumping on a phone call with Lovie Smith (former Chicago Bears head coach). That conversation was unforgettable. All my life’s hard work allowed me to have that conversation on draft day. It was a pretty surreal feeling.
Whether they be good or bad, share a pivotal memory from your time as a youth athlete.
My 8th grade year I elected to play down to the smaller weight division. That decision set me up for who I became. Everyone on the older team was so angry I left that the coaches became angry with me. They went to high school with me and continued to hold that grudge. That was the moment I became a fighter. I had to earn their respect or I was never going to see the field.
Would you advise youth athletes to play multiple sports or specialize and focus on only one? Why so?
Play as many sports as you can. Other sports allow you to develop skills that ultimately can help you in your favorite sport. We all need to remember that kids play to have fun. The second football became a business for me the love started to die. Don’t lose the love until you have too.
What specific advice do you have for youth athletes?
Make sure you’re the hardest worker in the room. Earn respect for your work ethic and not your talent. There will always be someone out there that is bigger, faster, or stronger. If you have certain gifts you were born with, imagine having an amazing work ethic on top of it…unstoppable. Do not forget about school. Sports end eventually. Be a step ahead of everyone else by utilizing your education at all levels.
Looking back, is there anything on your journey that you would have changed or done differently?
I was fortunate enough to have school paid for. If I could have done it all over I really would have taken advantage of it. I would have earned a top education that could impact my life. I would have not had the “just get through it mentality.”
Outside of sports, what are some of your other interests?
I love to work. I’m building my business from scratch. It’s my hobby, my life, my world. I love to exercise and be out doors.
Do you take part in any philanthropic endeavors or work with any charities
I always love to give back. My favorite thing to do is to get out and talk to high school football teams. If I can get one kid to see the light by hearing my story then I have done my job.