SE: Senior Spotlight: Brian Rohleder

Leading up to Kansas State’s graduation this weekend, K-State Sports Extra will feature four student-athletes who have gone above and beyond in both competition and in the classroom. Yesterday, we highlighted rowing’s Meaghan Kuzmich. To read her story click here

Today, we’re featuring men’s basketball senior, Brian Rohleder. 

A 6-foot-3 guard from Wichita, Kansas, Rohleder began his basketball career at K-State as a walk-on in 2011. In his five years with the program, he’s consistently been one of the team’s hardest workers, earning an athletic scholarship before his final season. He saw action in 70 career games and became one of the Wildcats’ key team leaders. 

Off the court, Rohleder was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll every semester during his Wildcat career and was named a First Team Academic All-Big 12 performer in 2015 and 2016. He spent the summer of 2013 interning with G.E. Johnson where he had the opportunity to work on Bill Snyder Family Stadium’s West Stadium Center. Along with his busy schedule playing basketball and working toward a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Rohleder was a four-year member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and spent two years as the SAAC president. 

K-State Sports Extra recently caught up with Rohleder. Here’s what he had to say: 

Sports Extra: What are your plans following graduation this weekend?

Brian Rohleder: I’m moving back to Wichita. I got a job with Koch Industries, the sub company is Koch-Glitsch, and I start on June 1. So I’ll start up pretty quick. I’ll be working with them as an engineer. They deal a lot with refinery equipment. 

SE: Are you excited to get started on this new chapter in life? 

BR: This is what I’ve been working for this whole time. This is what this has all been about: getting a good job and putting myself in a good position moving on. It’s a little surreal and it’s starting to hit me now that graduation is getting closer and closer, but I’m definitely ready for this next step. 

SE: How rewarding is it going to be when you walk across that stage and receive your diploma? 
BR: It’s going to be really special. It feels like I’ve been here for a long time. The days are long, but when I look back at it, it feels like I was moving into Haymaker Hall just yesterday. It’s really going to be a sense of accomplishment knowing that I was able to stick it out for five years doing both engineering and playing basketball. 

SE: How challenging has that been to balance a tough major like engineering and a demanding schedule playing basketball? 

BR: It’s been tough, and it’s definitely big constraint on my time. It takes a lot of time management, and you have to sacrifice a lot of other things. It’s not easy by any means, but I’ve had a lot of help along the way, especially with (Academics and Student-Athlete Service Program Director) Liane Fowler and her staff of academic advisors making sure that we’re always on top of our assignments. Also, my experience with all of my professors at K-State has been really great and my classmates helped me out a lot, especially in a major like engineering where you miss a lot of notes and homework. 

SE: What was the most rewarding part about being a SAAC member and then president? 

BR: I think for me it was the community service events, especially Special Olympics – that was really cool getting to interact with people of the community and people who might not have the opportunities you do. Knowing you’re making a difference in someone’s lives, that means a lot. Also, I enjoyed just getting to know different student-athletes in different sports. I probably wouldn’t have met any of those people because our time and our schedule is so busy that other than seeing them at training table, you might not have the opportunity to talk to them, so I also enjoyed building relationships with people in other sports. 

SE: What are some of your fondest memories from your K-State basketball career? 

BR: There’s been a lot, I don’t know if I can sum it all up over these past five years. Definitely winning the Big 12 Championship in 2013, that was a really special team and I’m always going remember Rodney McGruder and what kind of player he was and how great of a role model he was to everyone on the team. That was a lot of fun. Going to the NCAA Tournament – that’s every kid’s dream growing up, playing in the NCAA Tournament, so going to a couple was pretty cool; it was something I’ll remember forever. And then Senior Night was a really good memory. As a team, everybody played well. Everybody got to play. You couldn’t have scripted a better night than that. 

SE: Finally, what is the best part about being a student-athlete at K-State? 

BR: I think being a student-athlete at K-State is really special. The support you get from all the fans, all the students on campus, everyone is so involved and it really does feel like a family atmosphere, you always know you have people behind you. And then just the overall experience from our facilities to the game feels, the support the other sports all show for each other, it feels like home and that’s something I’m going to miss a lot. 

This will always be home to me.