Blue Earth Area’s Rorman: Hoops, life intertwine

SAVING LEAP — Blue Earth Area junior Caitlin Rorman leaps to save the basketball from going out-of-bounds as Jackson County Central defender Kailey Koep (10) observes during the championship game of the Blue Earth Area Holiday Invitational on Dec. 29 in Blue Earth. Rorman eclipsed the 1,000-point career scoring mark on Dec. 28. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — It’s game day and Caitlin Rorman arrives at Blue Earth Area High School early to watch the younger basketball squads play. She walks around, speaks to a few people and listens only to the ambient noise of the gym.

Rorman also does a pre-warmup stretch. As she mentally prepares for the game, she remembers her brother, Ethan, who passed away at 16 after his truck rolled into a ditch in 2014. Caitlin was only a 12-year-old seventh-grader at the time, but still remembers that day.

“February 27,” she says, almost instinctively.

The same Blue Earth Area Bucs girls basketball team that Caitlin would start for two years later decided to commemorate her older brother by writing “Ethan Strong” on their wrists before its next game following the accident.

The phrase went from the wrists of Ethan’s classmates to T-shirts, badges on some of the Bucs boys basketball players’ jerseys and hashtags on social media.

“Everyone’s so supportive and loving about it, and they show it through doing the ‘Ethan Strong’ hashtag all the time. My family and I love it so much,” said Rorman, who also has #EthanStrong in her Twitter bio.

Caitlin Rorman is a junior now, and the B-squad game is over. She then joins her teammates on the Bucs girls varsity team for the pre-game warmup.

Basketball is a major part of Rorman’s life as evidence, by the fact that she plays year-round. This past summer, the junior post/wing and her MN Rise AAU team were the runners-up in the North Tartan Meltdown tournament. Listed as 5-foot-10, Rorman mostly plays in the post for the Rise, but plays multiple positions for Blue Earth Area head coach Al Cue.

“Cue noticed me because I was a shooter more, so that’s part of the reason I did move up,” Rorman said in reference to her joining the varsity team as an eighth-grader. “He (Cue) did put me at the wing and I play point guard, but I also play in the post, so I can play pretty much anywhere on the court, I’d say. I try to improve my ball handling a lot and my post moves, just all around (as a player).”

Rorman’s versatility gives her the ability to develop her shot, whether it be in the paint or beyond the arc, making her tougher to guard.

“If they’re (opponent) shorter, I always like to go more in the post, or if a post tries to guard me, I then drive to the basket or drive past her. I try to shoot 3s, too,” Rorman explained. “I try to use everything to my advantage on the court.”

Those shots and points have been adding up, allowing her to eclipse 1,000 career points.

Rorman needed only 19 points to reach the mark entering the Bucs’ game against Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther during BEA’s holiday tournament. She reached it and added seven more points for 26 in the team’s 60-39 victory on Dec. 28.

“I was a little nervous. I was trying not to think about it too much, play the game and get there without trying to focus too much on it,” Rorman said. “I was really happy about it. I’ve been working really hard to get there, so once I got there, I felt like a lot of my hard work did pay off. But (I still) have to keep going.”

‘Keep going’ includes a try at 2,000 points.

“I’m trying to get there, yeah, but I’m just playing the game and seeing it unfold,” said Rorman, who currently has 1,074 points and is planning for a collegiate basketball career.

Whether it’s her winter team showing support of a family tragedy or traveling to New Ulm for AAU, basketball plays an important role in Rorman’s life.