Ed. Note: This story appears in our most recent issue of Game Day magazine.
With her first shot against Riverdale earlier this season, DeLayne Rotolo carved out her own place in McIntosh basketball history, but it won’t just be hoops where she leaves a mark on campus. Rotolo ranks as one of the county’s most successful multi-sport stars in recent history.
In that January 10 game against the Raiders, Rotolo notched her 1,000th career point. It was the culmination of years of hard work. While she’s surely proud of her achievement, she would never let you know. She’s focused on her team, and the Lady Chiefs just completed an excited season with a blend of veterans and young talent. Their coach, David Dowse, hopes this is just the beginning of a successful run, thanks to senior players like Rotolo, Samantha Coffey, and Savannah Soles setting the example.
“We have three goods ones in DeLayne, Sam, and Savannah,” beams Dowse.
As is the case with many on the tough-nosed team, Rotolo doesn’t have a set spot on the court. In any given game you can find her running the point, working out on the wing, or battling in the paint. She does whatever her team needs her to do, and she does it 100 percent. Rotolo finished her senior season 15 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game.
“She’s versatile, and that’s a credit to her. It’s what we’ve got to do,” says McIntosh Lady Chiefs coach David Dowse. “Naturally she’s a wing player. Last year she had to take on the responsibility of running the point, and she can do either of those two things, but she’s also very skilled inside. If we can find a mismatch, we’ll post her up down low and she’s very effective.”
For Rotolo, passing down her experience is just a continuation of a McIntosh tradition that in recent years included two-sport star Gabby Seiler, now playing soccer at the University of Florida, and Cassidy Williams, now playing basketball at Samford University.
“She’s had the good fortune of having a number of our players as role models,” says Dowse. “Cassidy watched Gabby, and DeLayne watched Cassidy. That trickles down.”
Rotolo will be continuing that line when she heads off to Milledgeville to play for the Georgia College Bobcats in the fall. Georgia College feels like the perfect fit.
“I went on a visit there and connected with the teammates. The coaches are great,” she says. “They made me feel at home.”
After leaving opponents in pain for years, she has an eye on pursuing physical therapy as a career.
She’s been a full-time Chief as a four-year start in two sports, so it will be an adjustment changing colors.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” says Rotolo.
Basketball may be the future for Rotolo, but she cut her teeth on the diamond.
“I spent most of my life playing softball. That was always the plan,” says Rotolo.
If there’s one person who knows about DeLayne’s two-sport prowess, it’s Carlie Anderson, her head coach in softball and one of Dowse’s assistants.
“DeLayne’s a fun player to coach,” says Anderson. “No matter what she’s doing, she gives it her all. She’s a very hard worker and a very coachable player.”
Eventually basketball worked its way into her plans. In middle school, a coach saw her playing basketball in PE class and asked her to try out for the school’s team. When that went well, her parents suggested travel ball, and hoops starting gaining a foothold.
“The more I played, the more I liked it.”
The pace and the energy of basketball is what drew her in.
“I love the intensity of it,” says Rotolo. “The game can change in a matter of seconds, instead of a whole inning.”
Facing the demands of playing two sports and a high level while juggling school work is no small task, but no one ever had to push Rotolo to work harder. She’s driven to succeed. When other players are relaxing, she is sweating to get better.
“She’s a gym rat. She’s always wanting to shoot on the weekends and during the summer,” says Anderson. “She’s definitely the kind of player you want to coach because of her attitude and her work ethic.”
“DeLayne, for as long as I can remember, has always embraced doing the little things and working on the fundamentals,” he says. “A lot of kids don’t want to put in the time doing some of the more monotonous things, but DeLayne has never shied away from that. I think that’s a big part of why she is the player she is today.”
Today, DeLayne Rotolo is a player leaving a large mark on McIntosh athletics and preparing to embark on a promising college playing career.