The Wildcats were down. But Dalton Rolli jolted them to life. Whether on the ice, on links or on the diamond, it’s what the Wilmington senior does.
Rolli’s was one of the signature moments of 2011, and it’s among the reasons the three-sport athlete was selected as the Wilmington Patch Athlete of the Year.
“I felt like I was just flying,” said Rolli about the goal, which helped the team bounce back after allowing the tying goal with less than one second remaining in regulation. “I couldn’t feel my feet or anything. Once it went in, I saw everyone’s hands go up. It was probably the best goal I’ve ever scored, and the best feeling I’ve had as an athlete.”
The fiery Rolli was a key member of the baseball, hockey and golf teams in 2011. Though he was a solid contributor for each, his role was never to be the star Wildcat.
According to several coaches and players, Rolli is best known for his ability to provide energy to his teammates.
“He does play with a little bit of an edge to him, which is a good thing for a catcher,” said Wilmington baseball coach Aldo Caira. “He’s always fired up and always fired up the other guys. In baseball you really need that, especially in a close game where you need an extra run to win a game.”
Boys hockey head coach Steve Scanlon said Rolli has matured over the years, a sentiment Rolli himself agrees with, saying that early in his high school career he was “a jerk.”
“He goes out and competes hard every night, which is something his teammates recognize,” said Scanlon. “I think he’s been more in control, which is a result of natural maturity as he got older. The more experience he’s gotten in big games, the better he is at handling it.”
Rolli said he thrives on big hits during games on the ice, because he’s seen first hand how it can give his time energy. But he’s also learned when the right time is to mix it up with his opponents.
“As a freshman and sophomore, I wasn’t always thinking. I was letting my emotions get the best of me,” said Rolli. “I’ve calmed down a lot. It’s a good life lesson. I’ve learned through playing all three sports that you have to be a leader, and you have to be respectful.”
Before the current hockey season, Rolli was voted captain by his teammates. In the spring he came in without a guaranteed starting spot at catcher for the baseball team, but earned the role and eventually a Cape Ann all-star spot. In the fall, Rolli was also successful as the No. 2 player and team captain for the Wilmington golf team.
A host of Patch readers nominated Rolli as Athlete of the Year because of his performance, but also his attitude outside of sports. Many readers praised Rolli’s hard work in the classroom, his love for the sports he plays and his positive influence on other students in Wilmington.
Rolli’s winning goal against Masconomet was the highlight of his career to date and was a huge moment for Wilmington athletics. But in the bigger picture, it was a moment that illustrates what kind of player he is, regardless of sport.
“I don’t think emotion is a bad thing, especially in hockey, and he has plenty of it,” said Scanlon. “I’d rather have a player charged up than laid back, and he manages a perfect balance. He’s always been a clutch performer for us, and there’s no better example than that goal.”