OKGs? Mike Rohrbach led the Huskies' Infamous RTKs

Dan Raley

Mike Rohrbach is an overly familiar face, a  voice of reason, for the University of Washington basketball team. He's a spiritual advisor, a pastor.

Rohrbach was once a special-teams scourge for the Huskies football team during the Don James era, the inspiration for a memorable yet menacing acronym that superseded OKGs, which stood for ex-coach Chris Petersen's Our Kind of Guys.

This determined player and his dedicated fourth-down specialists were known as RTKs -- Rohrbach's Trained Killers. 

Huh?

Rohrbach and his crew were so adept at creating mayhem with punters and those trying to protect them that then-UW assistant coach Skip Hall slapped the RTK label on them. Among the special-teamer leader's highlights:

In 1975, Rohrbach scooped up a punt blocked by teammate Spider Gaines and returned it four yards for a touchdown in a 24-21 defeat to Stanford at Husky Stadium.

In 1977, Rohrbach rushed in to block a third-quarter USC punt that led to a Joe Steele scoring run, ignited the UW's 28-10 victory and brought a Rose Bowl berth.

"The USC play was bigger than the touchdown because Don James said it was the pivotal play of the game," he said.

Rohrbach was a man of God at the time, the co-founder of the UW's branch of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes with teammate Mike Baldassin, both linebackers by trade.  

He led the first public prayer at a football game at Husky Stadium, kneeling with Stanford players in the end zone. A broadcaster was so confused by their actions he surmised that everyone was looking for a contact lens.

Rohrbach came to the Huskies from Ingraham High School, where he played for dominant teams and was much more suited for a raunchy nickname. 

He used to growl like a dog when he played middle linebacker in a hyperventilating fashion for Ingraham teams that went to extra lengths to put fear in their opponents.

Rohrbach and his teammates routinely formed a human gauntlet outside the stadium for teams to walk through, glaring at and intimidating them before anyone pulled on shoulder pads or helmets.

Fellow Rams middle linebacker Gary Larsen regularly ran down the field screaming, with arms flailing, before becoming the heart and soul of Washington State University's defense.

Rohrbach had his own on-field antics at Ingraham High -- he was someone I encountered on the field as a Roosevelt center trying to block him -- before he made changes on and off the field to match his newfound faith. 

"I didn't spit in your face, did I?" Rohrbach said, somewhat embarrassed by a habit he utilized as part of his nasty linebacker image. "That was before I became a Christian."

He never really left the Huskies once he joined them, offering guidance to generations of athletes dealing with the pressures of school and performance.

He's led athletes from various UW sports through team chapel sessions before games and held Christmas services. He's offered personal counsel whenever needed. He's been one of the few constants in the athletic department for decades.

RTK?

Rohrbach's Theological Kingdom maybe. 

Comments (5)
No. 1-5
behusky
behusky

Have played in Mikes Run to Win golf tourney. A wonderful man

68dawgfamily
68dawgfamily

❤️

91Dawg
91Dawg

Mike was our Pastor during my 4 years at UW and is a terrific person, great mentor. So full of positive energy that he gladly shared with those willing to accept.

KirklandDawg
KirklandDawg

Mike and his wife Karen are tremendous assets to Husky Nation !

jasbo54
jasbo54

Love what Rohr has meant to the Husky nation and what a great friend he has been! He continues to build into future generations through Run to Win! runtowin.org


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