Chris Rooney loves a challenge, and he loves to compete.
The 2.75-star forward from Milton, Mass. has helped lead the resurgence of Catholic Memorial hockey the last few seasons. Now, he’s ready for the next step in his career and will enroll at Babson this fall, playing Division III college hockey as an 18-year-old freshman.
He’s battled through injuries in high school and helped bring back a program that was once a national power, but had fallen on some tough times in the ultra-competitive Catholic Conference.
“Tough to play against with enough skill to make puck plays,” our scouts said. “High compete and versatile as he can play in any situation and on any line. Has some snarl and leads by example.”
NZ: How, when, and where did you start playing hockey?
Rooney: “The game of hockey has been in my family for many years. My dad played college hockey at Providence and professionally so it was obvious that I would start playing hockey at a young age. Milton Youth Hockey and the Boston Junior Terriers organization really helped in my development and I have many lifelong friends from my years with those teams.”
NZ: What is your earliest memory from playing hockey?
Rooney: “My earliest memory of hockey has to be the competitive mini-hockey games in the basement with my two brothers. Those games ignited my love for the game and were a great way to get creative playing the game.”
NZ: What was your experience playing Mass High School hockey? I hear your father is a coach, what is it like to have your father be apart of your hockey experience? How has he impacted your career?
Rooney: “Mass High School Hockey has been great for me in my development. It provided great local competition and rivalries.
“At first it was weird calling him “coach” at the rink and “dad” at home, but we have a great relationship so it was easy. I had such an advantage being around him all day every day, gaining so much hockey knowledge.”
NZ: Take us through the NCAA recruitment process. What other schools were you talking to and where did you visit?
Rooney: “I started to reach out and visit some schools the summer after my junior year, most of which were local schools or NESCACs. I always wanted to go to a rigorous academic school with competitive hockey. Originally, my plan was to attend Stonehill to play hockey but I decided that Babson was a better fit. Babson has been a dream school of mine and has been at the top of my list for a while so it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
“I reclassified my eighth-grade year so I was older than most kids in my grade so the timing felt right for me to go straight to college as I felt mature enough, both academically and physically.
“NCAA Division III hockey is known to be very competitive so I am humbled to have the opportunity to play for a school like Babson and a team that is ranked nationally every year.”
NZ: I noticed both Babson and Stonehill are located in MA, was it important for you to stay close to home?
Rooney: “In making my decision on where I would go to college, I always wanted to play in New England because it is home of the top academic and hockey schools in the country. It was important to me to stay local so I can still see my family at times. My parents don’t have to travel far to watch my games now which is convenient for them.”
NZ: How are you preparing for NCAA hockey? What is your plan for the summer?
“My goals for this summer were to gain weight, as well as continuing to work on my player development. I am working out at EPS at the Foxboro Sports Center which has been great so far in helping me become stronger and faster.”
NZ: Who’s been the biggest influence on your hockey career?
Rooney: “The biggest influence in my hockey career has to be my dad, Larry. I look up to him as both a hockey player and as a person as he is selfless and the most hard-working person I know. His hockey knowledge is top-notch so I am grateful that he is able to teach me all he knows.”
NZ: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?
Rooney: “The toughest challenge I have faced in hockey has been battling a few shoulder and ankle injuries throughout my high school hockey career. It is easy to get down on yourself when you are out of the lineup due to an injury, so it was important for me to stay positive and focused during those times.”
NZ: Have you thought about life after hockey? What are you thinking about studying and how does that fit in?
Rooney: “Babson is a nationally ranked business school so whatever I do after I graduate, I know I will have success in. I haven’t decided on what specifically I want to study but definitely something business-related. I am excited to get on campus.”