Wyoming's link to the Super Bowl is a man behind the scenes

2013-02-02T10:00:00Z Wyoming's link to the Super Bowl is a man behind the scenesBy KYLE ROERINK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
February 02, 2013 10:00 am  • 

The players on the Baltimore Ravens call him “Rock.”

The nickname is fit for a linebacker. But Kevin Rochlitz is the vice president of national partnerships and sales for the Ravens.

And he is Wyoming's lone connection to Sunday's Super Bowl.

Rochlitz doesn’t sack quarterbacks. His role is to keep such corporate partners as Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch happy. He’s been flying between Baltimore and New Orleans, the site of this year's Super Bowl, the past two weeks. He’s been booking hotel rooms, handling ticket requests, approving advertising and prepping for parties. His days start at the crack of dawn, and he doesn’t get home until midnight. Sleep doesn’t matter in the days prior to the Super Bowl.

“It’s one of those things that you work your whole career for,” he said. “And now we’re one game away.”

Rochlitz has climbed his way up the corporate ladder, Wyoming style.

He’s remembered at the University of Wyoming as the fresh-faced student with a clipboard, key ring and suit. He worked for free as an assistant athletic director. He loved performing administrative duties. But he wasn’t above sweeping the field house floor.

“He fulfilled very important business duties and job functions that typically would have been filled by a paid administrator,” UW Assistant Vice President Mark Collins said. “It was perfect timing.”

Collins said Rochlitz knew what he wanted to do from his first days on the UW campus in 1989.

Rochlitz’s father, Ken, was a legendary basketball coach at Northwest College in Powell. Kevin said he grew up in a gymnasium and decided early that he wanted to be on the administrative side of things.

“My dad always says I picked the right side,” he said.

Collins coached Rochlitz in youth baseball, football and basketball.

“Everyone knows his sister, Kim, is the athlete in the family,” Collins said.

“It’s true,” Rochlitz said.

Former Wyoming U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson disagreed. “The real athlete is Kenny,” he said.

Simpson is a close friend of the Rochlitz family and watched Kevin grow up to be the man he is today.

“He’s come a long way,” he said.

Rochlitz had tickets for last month's divisional playoff game between the host Denver Broncos and the Ravens. He received a lot of requests from friends who are Broncos fans.

“I had to make sure that I gave them to people who would be wearing purple and black,” Rochlitz said.

Collins is a Baltimore native. Rochlitz gave him tickets.

“I was wearing the right colors,” Collins said.

Rochlitz’s mother and father attended the game too. Ken is a former Broncos fan who gladly switched allegiances.

“It will be 10 years in April,” he said.

Wyoming High School Activities Association Commissioner Ron Laird was Rochlitz’s high school basketball coach in Powell. He’s a Broncos fan who never dreamed he'd cheer for the Ravens.

“I will this week,” he said.

Rochlitz was hired right out of school to be one of the youngest assistant athletic directors in the country at Fresno State University. Before signing on with the Ravens in 2003, he had also worked for Miami University, Syracuse University and minor league baseball teams, lassoing corporate clients.

“He was a gopher and just kept working his way up,” Laird said.

Rochlitz isn’t ashamed to let people know he’s from Wyoming. He said it’s a small town connected by a few highways. “You can drive from Powell to Casper, get out of your car and people will say, ‘What are you doing here?' I miss that.”

He also misses the open spaces, scenic landscapes and the friendly tax structure.

“The cost of living is different on the East Coast,” he said.

Walking into his office, it’s easy to tell he’s a born and bred Cowboy Stater. There are autographed UW footballs and helmets and other Pokes paraphernalia.

Players kid around with him.

“How many people are in that state?”

Every year, Rochlitz gives guest lectures at UW.

“He lets the kids know that anyone from Wyoming can do whatever they want in life,” said Milton Ontiveroz, institutional communications specialist at UW.

He does a great job of saying UW gave him a great start, Ontiveroz said.

“But his success comes from his mom and dad,” Ontiveroz said.

Mom and dad will be at the Super Bowl. But it’s not just a vacation. Rochlitz’s wife and daughter will be there as well.

“Grandma and Grandpa will have to do some babysitting,” Ken said.

It’s not often someone from Wyoming is on one of the world’s biggest stages. And Sunday, Rochlitz will be the state’s link. The football players are more likely to wear cowboy boots and hats, he said. But the Cowboy State is always in the back of his mind.

“When I get on a bus with our team and there’s a police escort tailing us, I always sit there and think, ‘What would people in Wyoming say about this?’”

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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