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Gustavus’ Rorman earns D3 basketball honor

SPLITTING THE DEFENSE — Gustavus Adolphus College freshman forward Caitlin Rorman (33) drives between Augsburg’s Jazmyn Solseth (45) and Tamira McLemore (3) during regular-season Division III college basketball action Jan. 19 at the Lund Center on the St. Peter-based campus. Rorman was named the D3hoops West Region rookie of the year for her outstanding performance during her first collegiate season. (Photo courtesy of Gustavus Adolphus sports information)

BLUE EARTH — Caitlin Rorman’s precision timing and improvisational skills on the basketball court continue to produce dividends.

The Gustavus Adolphus College hoopster utilized every inch of her athletic 5-foot-11 frame to pace the Gusties women’s team in scoring via a 16.5-point clip on the strength of netting the program’s No. 4 all-time single-season point total of 429 during the 2019-20 campaign.

In true adaptive style, Blue Earth Area High School’s No. 2 all-time leading career scorer made a silky-smooth transition from her role as the Bucs’ playmaking point guard in 2018-19 to power forward during her first hardwood season at the collegiate level.

“It wasn’t too much of an adjustment from high school to college since I played a 4 (power forward) and a 5 (center) during AAU in the summer,” said Rorman, who finished her prep career with a staggering 2,031 points — capped by a 26.5-point average during her senior prep season at Blue Earth Area. “I really liked the freedom that (GAC head) coach (Laurie) Kelly afforded me in playing the 4 this season. She allowed me to shoot 3s, in addition to playing inside, and that created more offensive opportunities for me.”

The two-time Sentinel All-Area girls co-basketball player of the year helped guide Gustavus Adolphus to an 18-9 overall record this season, including an appearance in the MIAC semifinal on Feb. 27.

In addition to earning all-MIAC first-team accolades and being selected as the league’s rookie of the year, Rorman netted the D3hoops West Region rookie of the year award to cap her initial collegiate basketball campaign.

“I didn’t know the award existed,” said a humble Rorman. “A couple of weeks ago I received a text from (GAC associate head) coach (Dan) Wolfe telling me to check out the D3 website and I saw my name on it.

“I am truly honored to receive the award.”

The three postseason awards mean even more to the sharpshooting Rorman since she’s been recovering from surgery for a torn labrum in her shoulder on that fateful Friday the 13th in March.

“They say timing is everything, and that’s very true when it comes to my injury and the ensuing surgery,” said Rorman.

A week after the Gusties’ basketball season ended, Rorman went to the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic in Mankato for an MRI on her shoulder during the morning.

“Later that same day, (Dr.) Jesse (Botker) called my dad (Duane) and told him that the tear in my labrum was worse than he originally thought and I needed surgery.

“He (Botker) squeezed me into his schedule before he went on vacation, and I’m very grateful for his timing. If he had waited, the surgery probably would have been delayed since it would have been considered ‘elective’ and most of those were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Rorman had originally planned to attend classes on March 12, take March 13-16 off to begin her initial recovery in the friendly confines of her family’s home in Blue Earth, and then return to her dormitory on the St. Peter campus on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Talk about timing again,” said Rorman. “I had surgery, went home and I’ve never left due to the stay-at-home orders by the state due to the pandemic.

“That weekend I got an e-mail from a friend of mine at Gustavus telling us that we’d have a two-week break to allow professors to get organized with online classes. A day later, the college decided to go online for the rest of the semester, and here I am.”

Once again, Rorman will look to improvise her daily schedule to not only recover from surgery and keep up in her classes, but also to avoid experiencing what Minnesotans refer to as ‘cabin fever’ during the harsh winters.

“It wasn’t too bad during the first two weeks. I think I cleaned my room at home for three days to be more comfortable while recovering in a sling,” said Rorman. “I do puzzles, go for walks and I’ve figured out my routine for doing homework, so it’s OK.

“But there are days when my family and I are sick of the quarantine and probably each other,” Rorman said with a laugh.

Rorman, however, will continue to make adjustments on the go as she completes her four classes and a biology lab online by semester’s end on May 26, in addition to strengthening her shoulder during her weekly physical therapy sessions.

“The biggest adjustment for most people is the social-distancing aspect, but I’m more of an introvert, so it’s not that big of a change for me,” Rorman said with a chuckle. “From a surgical standpoint, it’s been perfect timing for me in that everything fell into place. I don’t have to worry about keeping up with my teammates’ workouts and shooting drills because they’re not able to do them either.

“Now I can focus on classes and make a slow and steady recovery without being rushed to get back. Jesse did predict that I could be approved for shooting sometime in June, and then cleared for full contact by August if everything goes as planned.”

For now, the world will have to be more like Rorman and learn how to improvise during the social shutdown until life regains a bit of normalcy.

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