The Colgate Scene
January 2000
Table of contents
The many roles of Laura Rohrbacher
by John D. Hubbard


The night before she left for the coast to play volleyball in the NCAA tournament, Laura Rohrbacher '01 sat on the bench with women's basketball, the team she joined again as soon as she returned from the match with Pacific University.

     Rohrbacher's ability as a quick-change artist is not confined to the uniforms of two overlapping varsity sports (Laura is one of only three Colgate women playing two sports). She is also a member of Charred Goose Beak, a campus improvisational comedy troupe, and last year played the role of Viola in Shake-speare's Twelfth Night. Viola, of course, changes clothes too, donning men's apparel to aid in her search for a brother.

     And this spring Rohrbacher will once again wear a resident advisor's hat after taking the fall off to concentrate on volleyball. The added attention paid off with a Patriot League championship and a berth on the all-league team for Rohrbacher.

     "You just have to love what you're doing," said Rohrbacher. "I love being in the gym, especially when there is a crowd."

     There is also an abiding love for her teammates in both sports. While volleyball was winning championships and criss-crossing the country, middle blocker Rohrbacher still managed to find time to sit on the bench with the basketball team during games. The transition will be easier this season since Rohrbacher finished up last year as a starter. Still, she treads lightly as she blends in with the hoopsters, who have been playing together since October.

     Getting in basketball shape takes awhile, too. Volleyball requires quickness and power, but not running the floor. In the fall, Rohrbach-er ran most of the quick attacks and covered the middle of the net. During the winter she is expected to rebound and play defense. Whatever the assignment, role or duty, Laura Rohrbacher plays, performs and comes through with determination, enthusiasm and good humor.

     Rohrbacher grew up on a 1,500- acre cattle ranch in Centerville, Washington, started driving when she was six and was working cows not much later. A huge smile lights up her face as she talks about life there and the beauty that surrounds her home in big country. It is five miles to the family mailbox and even farther to Goldendale High, where Rohrbacher played on teams that were perennial state powers.

     "I really don't know what got me started in sports. I guess I wanted to be like my brother, and there is the challenge to excel and the thrill of winning. Sport is a way to connect with so many people, too. The relationship I have with my teammates, I don't know how else you get relationships like that."

     Maybe on stage. Rohrbacher sees strong similarities between athletics and acting. "As an actor you have obstacles to overcome and you have to use your body, move comfortably on stage. In my basic acting class one of the exercises we did was defense slides." Her work with Charred Goose Beak she describes as "just playing games."

     Laura Rohrbacher is the reason her teammates have been showing up in Brehmer Theater and why fellow actors can be spotted at Cotterell Court. Whatever the uniform, she plays a vital role. Her obvious affection builds cohesiveness and her enthusiasm contributes to team chemistry.

     Rohrbacher's translation is simpler. "My teammates definitely think I'm weird." In the best sense, of course.

     Laura Rohrbacher wants everything. She wants to play and perform. She looks ahead occasionally to basketball in Europe or perhaps Teach for America. "There are so many options. I change every day." While staying wonderfully the same.

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