Saskatchewan

Saskatoon's Brendan Rooney makes lacrosse history at Yale University

There has been a lacrosse renaissance in Saskatoon the past few years and one of the best lacrosse players to ever come out of the city has been away for it all.

Brendan Rooney scored a goal as Yale won its first NCAA national championship in lacrosse

Saskatoon's Brendan Rooney (#46) celebrates scoring a goal in the NCAA men's lacrosse national championship. Rooney and Yale University beat Duke 13-11 to win the school's first title. (Rich Barnes)

Saskatoon is in the midst of a lacrosse renaissance, but one of the best lacrosse players to ever come out of the city has been away for it all.

Yale University attackman and Saskatoon native Brendan Rooney scored a goal in the NCAA National Championship on Monday to help lead his Bulldogs to a 13-11 win over Duke. It's the first lacrosse title in Yale's history.

"It was pretty crazy," Rooney said. "It was at Gillette Stadium where the (New England) Patriots play ... there were 30,000 people there so obviously a lot different than how I grew up playing."

That's something I'll carry with me for the rest of my life and I'll never forget it.- Brendan Rooney, Yale University lacrosse player

Rooney said he first picked up a lacrosse stick when he was about five or six years old because his older brother was playing the sport. 

"I really owe a lot to him and I've thought a lot about that over the past few days," he said.

Yale University lacrosse player Brendan Rooney (right) and his brother Jordan (left) after the 2018 NCAA men's lacrosse national championship game. (Courtesy of Brendan Rooney)

The St. Joseph's High School graduate played club lacrosse for the Saskatoon Scorpions and Calgary's Elev8. He was also named to Team Saskatchewan four times.

While playing for Calgary, Rooney's team travelled to the United States and played in front of American university coaches. He said he was "lucky enough" to be playing at a game with Yale coaches watching and "a couple months later and a few emails later" he was headed to New Haven, Conn.

Little things on the biggest stage

Yale players pose with the trophy after defeating Duke in the NCAA college Division I championship final lacrosse game, Monday, May 28, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Rooney's family was in the stands for the National Championship final. He said it was something he'll cherish forever.

The roar of the crowd was great, but Rooney said he and his teammates made a choice this year to focus on remembering the details.

"It's really the small moments: the grueling practices, running and getting yelled at by the coaches, going to the dining halls after, all those small bonding moments with the team," he said.

Rooney, who was a 22-year-old junior this season, will have one more year to soak it all in.

Stay in school

Aside from going to the first-ever Saskatchewan Rush game in Saskatoon, Rooney said he hasn't been able to follow much of excitement for lacrosse back home. He's not surprised more and more kids are being inspired to try the sport.

"It's a great game and I think especially in the hockey community it's a great summer sport for kids," he said. "I think once people knew what it was and were exposed to it, it really caught on and that makes me excited for the future."

Rooney, who is majoring in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, had two pieces of advice for young athletes wanting to follow in his footsteps: Play field lacrosse (as opposed to just playing indoor "box" lacrosse) and study hard in school.

"I'm going to sound like a parent here but you gotta keep your grades up, you gotta be a good student," he said.

"It's not only important for your admissibility to the school, but I think it says a lot about work ethic and your character and your ability to really battle through adversity."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Mills

Journalist

Peter Mills is an associate producer at CBC Saskatchewan and the host of the Meet the Green and White podcast. Follow him on Twitter @TweeterMillsCBC. Do you have a story idea? Email peter.mills@cbc.ca.

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