Shelton's Rohlman has chance to reclaim lost time in sports to pandemic

Gavin Rohlman will be a key player for Shelton High.

Gavin Rohlman will be a key player for Shelton High.

David G. Whitham / For Hearst Connecticut Media

Gavin Rohlman prepared himself his whole life to play football and basketball as best as he could and for as long as he could.

Now fueled by the loss of his senior football season, and the chance to win a state title in basketball as a junior because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rohlman is on a mission.

“I don’t know what was worse, having our basketball dreams destroyed or having football being canceled,” Rohlman said. “It was the worst feeling. I never want to feel like that again. It was horrible.

“I had played flag football and youth football for the chance to be part of something special at Shelton,” said Rohlman, a wide receiver. “For basketball, I believe for the first time in 20 years we were going to be playing for a championship. We were coming off a win over Wilcox Tech and we were going to be at home for a playoff game with Ledyard. We were so hyped, practicing like crazy, we were just ready to win a championship.”

Rohlman will channel that frustration as a 6-4 swingman. for coach Brian Gardiner this season.

“Gavin is our most experienced guy,” Gardiner said. “He lost his football season, so I think it makes him even more focused on basketball. This is his only opportunity this year for sports. He had success and played tons of minutes for us last year.”

Rohlman, who started and came off the bench as a junior, knows there will be added responsibility this season.

“My job was to play amazing defense, get boards. We had three top scorers in front of me, so I did what I had to do when I had to do it,” he said. “I’ll have to play big and play small at guard. I feel comfortable coming back. We’ve had a run of successful years and with guys we have we will be okay.”

Shelton will run its offense through its veteran.

“Gavin is versatile and can handle the ball, shoot it and is a very good passer,” Gardiner said. “We are putting him in spots where he can make decisions with the ball. This will take some of the pressure off our guards. Brian Belade was supposed to be handling the ball, so we need someone else to help facilitate.”

Rohlman said he is ready.

“When a guy is sagging off me, I can get the shot,” he said. “I’m faster than a lot of big guys guarding me, so I like to put the ball on the floor and drive. I think I’ve gotten better junior year to this season. For me it is about confidence, my self-confidence and the confidence that coach has in me.

“Coach Gardiner is an amazing. He helps every player. In basketball with 12 players you get to have a close relationship with your coach. He is honestly the best coach I’ve had in all sports. He is kind and cares. He would put in so many hours watching film on other teams, and on us so we could get better. I told coach on first day as a freshman that I want Shelton to be one of the best defensive team. It is easy points every game. It is such a good feeling to get stops on a team.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354