Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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4 SEPT. 19, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED I saac Rochell became as much a conversation piece as a coffee connoisseur this spring when the Notre Dame senior traveled to down- town Seattle for a business internship that taught him as much about life as it did future job plans. Working as the beefiest barista the Emerald City has even seen, this 290-pound Irish defensive lineman believed a little cafe named Street Bean Coffee was the perfect place to learn the ropes on how to operate a not-for-profit operation — a career path Rochell hopes to pursue after what promises to be a successful NFL career. For every bag of Street Bean Coffee sold at the store, or online at Street-, the organization uses a portion of the proceeds to fund an hour of job training to help a young person trapped on the dead-end Se- attle streets — all aimed at giving the city's homeless youth a chance at a robust future, from "the grounds up." "I learned a lot about homelessness and struggles," Rochell said upon his return from Seattle to South Bend. "I met people that have been homeless since they were 12 years old. And ob- viously, they didn't make the decision to be homeless at 12 years old." Rochell's internship — which en- tailed bookwork, event organization, coffee making and everything in be- tween — lasted only two weeks. But everyone involved with the gentle gi- ant's stay say he had an impact dur- ing his time there that still carries on. Merri O'Brien, Street Bean Coffee's executive director, said the enthusi- asm, involvement and "presence" Rochell brought to the job spilled through the entire business and onto the Seattle streets, giving an immedi- ate boost to a Street Bean Coffee mis- sion that began in 2009. "He's a Notre Dame football player, and not to mention, we're all like half his size, so obviously that created a lot of curiosity," O'Brien recalled. "But he fit right in. You would've thought he had been there for two years, not two weeks. People were actually really sad to see him go." Rochell's two weeks helping the homeless in Seattle is a perfect snap- shot into the type of selfless young man he was raised to be. To illustrate that, Isaac's father, Steve Rochell, shared a story from when his son was a senior at Eagles Landing Christian Academy outside of Atlanta. Growing up as a close high school buddy with the grandson of S. Tru- ett Cathy (the billionaire founder of Chik-fil-A), Isaac was invited to take a "once in a lifetime" senior vacation to the swanky and exclusive Atlantis Re- sort on Nassau Island in the Bahamas. What teenager would pass that up? Isaac Rochell did, choosing instead to take a glamour-free church mission trip to Nicaragua. "That's how Isaac has always been," Steve Rochell said. "He always puts the needs of everybody else ahead of his own." In a college landscape scarred by arrests, suspensions, transfers and entitlement, Steve's two sons stay fo- cused and firm. Isaac's older brother, Matt Rochell, earned a football scholarship to the Air Force Academy and became a three-year starter there at offensive tackle before he graduated in May as an Air Force 2nd Lieutenant. Matt never missed a start during his final three seasons with the Falcons, but one of those 39 games stands out. Matt was a sophomore and a first- year starter in 2013 when Notre Dame traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo. Isaac was a nervous freshman, a rookie trying to make his mark late in a 45-10 Irish rout when the two broth- ers actually lined up across from each other for the first and only time in their football careers. "That was by far my best experi- ence in college," big brother Matt said. "Isaac was kind of nervous be- cause that was one of his first games at Notre Dame where he was getting major playing time. "I was soaking it all in because I realized it was going to be a memory way more important than the out- come of the game." Spend any time talking with Isaac and Matt Rochell and it becomes ob- vious these two brothers represent ev- erything that is right with a student- athlete. Just ask Isaac's former boss about the impact one big dude made on one little coffee shop. "It was pretty remarkable that two weeks can really make a difference in so many different peoples' lives," O'Brien said of Rochell's Seattle stay. "His time was certainly valuable, even if it was very brief." ✦ Despite Attention, ND Lineman Stays 'Grounded' UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE Todd D. Burlage has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2005. He can be reached at Senior defensive lineman Isaac Rochell spent two weeks in Seattle this past summer doing an internship with Street Bean Coffee, which is a not-for-profit operation that aids homeless youth. PHOTO COURTESY STREET BEAN COFFEE

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