Jontrell Rocquemore Shares How His Breakdowns Led to His Breakthroughs

Jontrell Rocquemore

Jontrell Rocquemore, Wellness Instructor and Certified Mental Performance Coach

Jontrell Rocquemore is a former Winnipeg Blue Bomber for the CFL, a licensed wellness instructor, a certified mental performance coach, and a Sr. Business Consultant for Utah State University. 

Jontrell sat down with me to share more about how his experience in his athletic career, filled with both ups and downs, led him to where he is and how he is now finding his purpose in ways he never imagined before. 

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1AND1: Can you tell me more about your journey as an athlete? Have sports always been an important part of your life? 


@jrocq_ Great Experience! 🇨🇦 Back to Dallas📍 🙏🏾 #canada #cfl #bluebombers ♬ Champagne Poetry – Drake

Jontrell: Sports have always been a big part of my life. I was born in Chicago, IL, and my dad played for the Cleveland Browns, so football was always in the family, and my brothers and I all followed suit and played.  It’s how we connected.  Growing up in Chicago, it was more of a rougher environment. With all the stressors and insecurities I experienced in Chicago, football was my escape and my way to feeling like I was worth something. It helped me excel and practice soft discipline skills, consistency, and a way to block negativity. 

When I was about 10 or 11, my family moved to Dallas because they wanted us to be more productive in a stable environment. Fast forward to high school, I got a scholarship to play at Utah State. 

There was a shift when I got there, and I knew it would be a time when I’d learn some deep-rooted, transformational lessons and things that I wasn’t necessarily ready for but would have to do anyway because it was just my path. 

Three years into my college career, I fractured my tibia. It was the first bone I’d ever broken, and my family couldn’t come up and be with me through my surgery or after, and I had people around to help me, but it was the first time I was truly isolated from my family. Football gave me my place, and that’s where I felt like life really set me down, and I had to face more than I thought I would. 

1AND1: During that time, what did you learn and experience? 

Jontrell: I went through a lot of negative feelings, depression, unsureness, and anxiety. During that time, I questioned if I’m not a football player, then who am I? That was the first time I had to answer that question because I was always active and on the go. This overwhelming pressure and demands caved me in, and that’s when I started meditating. That helped me tremendously and was a practice I used to help me find this newness, strengthen my faith and help me see that my identity wasn’t solely based in only sports or being a football player. 

@jrocq_Get on your purpose 🤝🏾♬ original sound – Jrocq_


1AND1: When you started to see yourself beyond football, how did your identity expand? Did you want to return to football?

Jontrell:  I returned to football the following year but still struggled. I tried my best to be what my coaches wanted, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t playing like I used to, starting like I used to, and found myself in another battle. Right before the year ended, I experienced this relieved feeling to no longer hold the coach’s expectations so high and to play because it’s what I loved to do. I’d say that was my true “awakening.” Amid all that, academically, I double majored in Political Science and Sociology but figured out that sociology would not work out for me. 

I got an internship with a local First District Courthouse in the valley in Utah. One of the judges became my best friend and my mentor. In 2019, he invited me to work on a program for student-athletes to help them accumulate better in Utah. If you’ve ever been to Utah, you know that it can be a culture shock – the religion and community are different, and there’s not much diversity, which can be a hard adjustment for some students. 

When given that opportunity, I was nervous because I didn’t know the lay of the land, but I worked alongside him on that program, and on top of that, Utah State offered me the chance to get my masters of choice, and ironically enough, I chose to get an MBA. Again, I found myself in a position where I didn’t know the lay of the land, and I had no competency about business, but it was the best thing I could’ve ever done because I was able to mix my passions of what I truly cared about into a business format. 

But although that was going well, I was still unsure about the football side. In 2019, I was invited to the Rookie minicamp. After 4 days, I came back and started my rollercoaster journey with the Browns and finally received a workout in November, but I didn’t get signed on, so I came back again thinking, “This wasn’t a part of the plan. What’s going to happen next?” So I threw myself into actively working for the university and helping the athletes. And then 2020 came, which was a level of uncertainty I couldn’t have expected. 

1AND1: How did COVID change the direction you were going in? 

Jontrell: I was facing this inner turmoil where my identity felt like it was being split into two.  I was trying to be positive about the potential opportunity to keep playing, but another part of me was wondering if I was good enough and if I’d reach this goal I had been working toward since I was six or if it would be stripped away from me. 

My agent told me that I had talent and that I could go to the CFL, get a couple of years of experience there, and then go back to the NFL to play. 

So I signed the papers to join the CFL, and in between that time, I’m finishing my MBA, so everything was lining up.  But then, when COVID hit, the program I was working on for the university stopped, and my contract to play for the CFL was postponed, and they eventually canceled the first season of my two-season contract. I was also in a relationship then, and we moved from Utah to Vegas to find some stability. I was doing door-to-door solar sales in the middle of COVID while finishing my MBA. 

It was a hectic time, and then I moved to Houston. This all happened in a timeframe of like six months. I finished my MBA around December 2020. The door-to-door life was kicking my ass, and I was just lost –I was somewhat a salesman, photographer, and content creator, and all three were not fulfilling my purpose. During this time, I found writing and began writing my goals because I was overwhelmed and still feeling this failure and rejection I hadn’t experienced. Writing my goals gave me a direction and a plan of attack and is something I still do to help me. 


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A post shared by Jontrell Rocquemore (@jrocq_)

And once 2021 hit, I was pretty much over football. I kept getting my hopes up. My two-year deal with the CFL was still on the table, and they were telling us they would prep for the season. I didn’t believe it because it kept getting pushed back. My mentality told me not to waste my time, but the end of May came, and we had a meeting, and they gave us an update. Then in June, they followed up and said we had the green light and that my flight to leave would be July 1. 

1AND1: That was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, I’d imagine. So much was shifting for you. When you got that green light, were you excited? 

Jontrell: I felt unprepared, to be honest, but I knew I had to take the ticket. It was what I was waiting for.  I went from being the fourth string to the starting lineup by the end of camp. We play one of our rivals for our first game, I get an interception, and we win. 

Later that week, I injured my hamstring in practice. I was drained from that, my breakup, and just mentally done. I was released in November, which was lowness and depression I hadn’t reached before. Everything felt like it was in turmoil, and for the first time in my life, I questioned who I was and felt like I wasn’t as great as I thought. 

Luckily, I was going to therapy at the time, and that was a huge support system. I needed some way to bring forth this inner strength that I knew I had but couldn’t get out of me. There was almost a sense of relief when I was released, but I had to go back home and face everything I was avoiding. I had to do a lot of reconfiguring. At each stage of my life, I kept finding things that would ground me and be my anchor. 

Before all of these experiences, I thought I knew what hardships were. And I needed this system to help me. That’s when I started doing my writing goals to reprogram my mind on how resilient I can be and change the way I think. Writing my goals gave me something to hold onto, and things started clicking. I realized that I was everchanging and could give myself the freedom to expand.

1AND1: It goes back to the theme of this story of identity. Once you decided to hang up your jersey, how did you begin to experience life fully? 

Jontrell:  2022 was the year I began coming into my own. I was making decisions that were setting me up for success. I got a gig doing software development, and in that role, I had to do a lot of outreach and make calls to people I knew. 

While working on that program in 2020, I worked with the President of Utah State, so I called her and let her know I was doing software development sales and asked her if she knew anyone who could help me. She gave me people names of who I could talk to, but most importantly, she started talking about how when I was initially doing work at the beginning of my program, it required mental health and wellness structure which is mind, body, and bridging. 

Part of the initiative of that program was to add a wellness component. The university had just freshly created this I- System Institute, the department’s framework under the College of Humanities and Social Services. The institute has had this method to teach people how to recognize when they have this distorted lens of reality. They use signals of mind clutter and body tension as recognition, rest it, and then actively engage with reality. 

At first, I wasn’t too excited about it, but when I was talking to the President about it, she said they’re still doing it and that I should connect with them. I called them to show my interest, and they were adamant about me being on board. I got certified and became a licensed practitioner, and I did presentations and one-on-ones with individuals and athletes all across the world. Soon after that, I was connected with Dr. Stanley Block, who runs the institute, and he wanted to hear more about the work I was doing. 

After a few months, that’s when everything shifted once more. They created a position for me that started in January 2023 to be a Sr. Business Consultant to continue this work, share the materials for the institute, and do one-on-one and group presentations to spread this model, help individuals with stress and depression, and highlight therapeutic modalities. 


1AND1: That’s incredible. It’s amazing how everything came back full circle for you. How does that feel to see yourself standing here now doing this important work compared to where you were years ago, filled with uncertainty? 


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A post shared by Jontrell Rocquemore (@jrocq_)

Jontrell: I feel so much gratitude. For the first time in a while, things are going really well. That role has helped me grow, my content on Instagram has grown more, and I’m reaching more people than I thought I ever would. To me, all of this is a reflection of the inner work I’ve been doing, and it perfectly intersects with my interests in helping people. It feels like I’m floating. 

Looking back, I’ve seen this house that has blown over a million times, but the difference now is that I have a foundation to help keep me grounded and stable. It’s reminding me that I can continue to rebuild as I need to and that I don’t have to put myself in a box anymore. I no longer think about how I may not be good enough when I face these hardships, but instead, I’m seeing how these moments are giving me the most power to find myself and to be creative.