When Erin Rooney followed Head Coach Stephanie Gaitley when the Rams’ mentor moved from Monmouth University to Rose Hill in 2011, the program was just starting its ascent into an Atlantic 10 contender. By the time she graduated three years later, the Rams were league champions, and Rooney was leading the way. A two-time First-Team All-Atlantic 10 player (the first Ram ever to achieve that even once), Rooney also garnered First Team All-Met honors twice and despite playing only two years at Fordham, still ranks in the top 20 on the school’s all-time scoring list (1062).
Rooney took her talents overseas following graduation with her degree in Integrative Neuroscience, competing in France, Poland and Switzerland. She recently spoke to the Rebounders Club via FaceTime from her current home in London, England, where she is applying to Masters programs to refresh her Neuroscience background for her post-basketball career.
Rebounders Club: Basketball has taken you literally around the world, from home in New Zealand to the Jersey shore at Monmouth, to the Bronx and now to England. What has it meant to you to be able to play this game?
Erin Rooney: From “little’ New Zealand, it’s not something that everyone gets to do. It’s kind of isolated, so I’ve gotten to take some of our culture everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve met different people from different cultures, different food, languages, which I love.
RC: How often do you get back to New Zealand?
ER: When I was at Fordham and Monmouth I never got to go home for the holidays since we were in season. But once I got into pro ball, I would get home every year, even just for four or five days, to be with family.
RC: Do you think you have paved the way for other players from there to come to the States?
ER: Yes, I think even just before me there were a couple of players going over to the States in a few sports. Now there are hundreds of New Zealanders in all sports, which is great—they can get an education and at the same time play the sport they love. I definitely hope that I inspired people at home, that this is possible for them, like it was for me.
RC: You faced an important decision when Coach Gaitley left Monmouth to come to Fordham, you left a good situation at a great school, but you’d have to sit out a year before you could play. What made you choose Fordham at that point?
ER: At first, I said to her, “I came all this way to follow you and now you are leaving,” and I wasn’t going to go. But Fordham added the Neuroscience major and I wanted to play for Coach so I did. And I couldn’t be more happy with my choice. The education was a big thing, being in New York, playing for the same coaches. It ended up playing out perfectly,
ER: I think the chemistry, most. You can’t really create that. We were lucky that everyone had the same idea and commitment to try to achieve–even the year before, when I sat out [per transfer rule], everyone bought in to what Coach wanted to do, everyone was on board.
RC: What are some things you remember off the court at Fordham?
ER: I committed most of my time to basketball and my studies. I’m a perfectionist that way, so a lot of times because of my ambition to play professionally, I’d go back to the gym and work on things. But in my free time, I liked going into the city. It was really special–looking back on it, I enjoyed it. It really was some of the best times of my life.