Undersized Post Earns BVU Hall of Fame Honor
Early knee injury introduced Brad Rohwer to ‘Doc’ Egland and changed his academic, professional track
As a high school student-athlete at Sutherland High School in the mid-1980s, Brad Rohwer heard one message several times from college basketball coaches: “You’re too small.”
An undersized post player, Brad beat the odds in earning All-Iowa Conference accolades as a sophomore, junior, and senior at Buena Vista University. A Dean’s List student every semester, the 1991 BVU graduate finished his Beaver basketball career in the top 10 in points, field goal percentage, rebounds, and steals.
Now Dr. Brad Rohwer, he serves as an owner and practicing physical therapist of sports rehab for Sports Rehab & Professional Therapy Associates, which has locations in Storm Lake, Cherokee, Ida Grove, Denison, Pocahontas, Milford, and Spirit Lake.
This fall, he reaches a basketball pinnacle with his induction in the BVU Athletics Hall of Fame during Homecoming festivities Sept. 30 through Oct. 2.
“I’m grateful for the induction in the BVU Hall of Fame. I was humbled and very surprised, but incredibly happy. I love BVU and everything it has done for us.”
Brad, a 6-foot 4-inch post player, played with his back to the basket throughout his high school career. The late Jeff Spielman, BVU’s Head Coach at the time, wasn’t discouraged by his size and invited him to visit campus.
“I attended quite a few BVU open gyms during my recruitment, watched some games, and was comfortable with what I’d seen,” he says. “I also met Jim Demers ’91 and competed against him in high school. Jim was coming to BVU, and we became great friends.”
Demers, who starred in football and basketball, was inducted into the BVU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. Rohwer helped introduce him that evening. Demers will do the same this time around.
“Playing with Jim, I could get one quick glance from him, and I knew where he wanted me to cut for his pass,” Rohwer says. “I owe my induction to several of my teammates and Jim. I know Jim had so many assists to me.”
Brad’s start at BVU got off to an inauspicious start. During a pickup basketball game in his second week on campus as a freshman, he hurt one of his knees and had to have it arthroscopically repaired. Rehab followed for several weeks. And while it hampered his basketball start, it changed his academic track and his life.
“I was a mass communications major at the start and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” he says. “For some reason, coming from a small school, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to cut it in the sciences in college. I was afraid to fail.”
That changed when Dr. Roger Egland, BVU Director of Athletic Training, Emeritus, began supervising Brad’s recovery. He got to know the freshman and sensed he could find his passion in the athletic training field.
“‘Doc’ Egland told me to go to the Registrar and become an athletic training major,” Brad says. He majored in both athletic training and biology. He eventually graduated from the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and returned to Storm Lake because of the connection with Egland and Kit Munden ’81, of Sports Rehab & Professional Therapy Associates. Brad has been with the firm ever since and counts at least two dozen BVU graduates as part of the business. Each year, Sports Rehab hires BVU students for internships and part-time work.
Hampered by his injury his freshman season, he didn’t see varsity action until just before Christmas. Senior Barry Anderson ’88 took Brad aside after Christmas and built him up, telling him he was good enough.
“Barry also told me to quit being so soft,” Brad remembers. “He told me I’d make it, that I would succeed here.”
Brad started in January of that season. He was a starter the rest of his career and often the focal point of opposing coaches, who did what they could to stop the exploits of the undersized center who did virtually all his work in the paint against players who often stood anywhere from two to six inches taller.
In the end, the three-time team Most Valuable Player scored 1,525 points, gathered 651 rebounds, made 133 steals, and shot 61.7 percent from the field.
He and wife, Amy, a 1991 BVU graduate, raised three children: Tayler (Rohwer) Van Berkum, Lauren, and Cade. They reside in Aurelia where Brad has served the community as president of the school board for years. He has also staffed the Alta-Aurelia High School sidelines for decades, doing so on a voluntary basis.
“I’m grateful for the induction in the BVU Hall of Fame,” he says. “I was humbled and very surprised, but incredibly happy. I love BVU and everything it has done for us.”