Original Pioneer Series: Damien Rochon-Washington
By Cassie Kickert

One player still with the Pioneers from the original 2002 squad is receiver Damien Rochon-Washington.

11 years ago, fellow original Pioneer Guillame Paek, Rochon-Washington’s teammate with the former Minneapolis Lumberjacks, approached him about joining a new semi-pro team, the St. Paul Pioneers.

The Pioneers’ founders, Adam Gold and Ryan Venturine, also played for the Lumberjacks as well as current assistant head coach/defensive line coach Jim Walsh, who came up with the nickname “Pioneers”.

Paek was not only instrumental in getting Rochon-Washington to become a Pioneer, he helped convince the receiver to come to Minnesota in the first place.

Damien is originally from Chicago, Illinois. When deciding where to go to college, he visited Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Paek was his tour guide and recruiter.

He liked the school so he decided to move to Minnesota and has never looked back. Damien says he is very happy with his decision. He loves the Minneapolis community.

He also met his wife, Rhea, in Minneapolis. Without her, he says, it would have been impossible to play as long as he has. To sustain an 11-year career, it can’t be only about football. It’s about camaraderie with the other players, he says.

“Being in the huddle creates a bond. [Playing together this long] builds a brotherhood,” he said.

According to Rochon-Washington, the family atmosphere and respect the players have for the coaches and each other keep the Pioneers consistent.

He is a personal trainer by trade. He was featured in City Pages Magazine as the best Personal Trainer in the twin cities. He has also formed many connections and resources through playing semi-pro football with the Pioneers.

In five games this season, he has already surpassed his touchdown total from all of last season.

The next chance to come and watch Rochon-Washington and the rest of the Pioneers is this Saturday,
June 16, at 5pm at Rochester Community and Technical College against the Rochester Giants.