January 5, 2017
Hayden Rockett (left) of St. John’s Prep announced his commitment to Trinity College earlier this week.
By HAROLD RIVERA
St. John’s Prep senior Hayden Rockett established an impressive career in his four seasons as a wide receiver on the Eagles varsity football team. Now the Marblehead native is gearing up for his next challenge: bringing his talents to the college football stage.
Earlier this week, Rockett announced his commitment to play football for Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. The driving force behind his commitment to the Bantams was the connection he established with the school’s football coaches.
“The school itself, the campus and how the coaches valued having a life outside of football,” Rockett said. “It’s not like it’s football, football, football. They value the whole person and not just the football player. I liked the campus and it all fit together for my liking.”
Rockett was also considering a small number of schools in the Patriot League, but in the end Trinity was the clear choice. The interest Trinity’s coaches showed in him stood out from the others.
“I was considering a couple other schools in the Patriot League but they didn’t show as much interest,” Rockett said. “I think Trinity reached out in a richer way. They seriously wanted me.”
Rockett’s senior season with the Eagles came to a tough end when he suffered a concussion in practice midway through the Prep’s run in the state tournament. The injury forced Rockett to miss the final four games of his senior season.
Despite the setback, Rockett enjoyed the comradery the Eagles had during his final season on the team.
“It was definitely the most unique of all four of my seasons,” Rockett shared. “This year itself, it felt like more of a team than I’ve ever experienced on any other team in my life.”
Rockett’s college decision was a process that came with top-notch resources for guidance. His coach at the Prep, Brian St. Pierre, played college football at the Division 1 level for Boston College. From there, he established an eight-year career in the NFL that included stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers.
Rockett credited St. Pierre for reaching out to college coaches behind the scenes.
“I wouldn’t be in this position if he hadn’t been there,” Rockett said. “Behind the scenes, he was contacting all the coaches and schools. All the schools were coming in. He told me that he thought I should really consider Trinity. His guidance was handled extremely well and he was very helpful.”
In addition to St. Pierre, Rockett’s older brother, Owen, also served as a source for help. Owen graduated from the Prep in 2015 and now plays Division 1 football as a sophomore at Colgate University.
“He made my HUDL film,” Rockett said of his older brother, also a wide receiver. “He advised me to go the school that was the best fit and the school that I wanted, not the school everybody else wanted.”
Third in line in the Rockett family is the youngest brother, Wes, currently a sophomore at the Prep and also a wide receiver for the school’s football team.
“I look at it as three brothers who love the sport of football,” Rockett said.
As he gears up for to hit the gridiron at the college stage, Rockett anticipates a handful of challenges ahead of him. Luckily, his career as an Eagle included a long list of games against some of the area’s top football programs. His hope is that the opposition he went up against in his days at the Prep prepared him for the competition he’ll face in college.
“Change brings some anxiety,” Rockett said. “I’ve been playing against some of the top-notch schools in New England so I’m used to high levels of competition. I’m expecting that college level competitiveness will be tough and I’m looking forward to how different that’ll be.”
Aside from football, the Prep also prepared Rockett from an academic standpoint. The combination of physical practices and rigorous academics will serve as a challenge, but it’s one that he’s looking forward to tackling.
“The physicality part may be one of the challenges,” Rockett said. “I think the practices and everything, along with Trinity being a difficult academic school. The Prep is a high-end academic and athletic school so it sort of prepared me well enough to adapt to a school like Trinity. I won’t be too alarmed by those challenges.”
Harold Rivera can be reached at email@example.com.