Erin Rooney Selected to Play for New Zealand National Team
June 6, 2012
Bronx, N.Y. - Very few athletes get the privilege of representing their country in international competition and Fordham women's basketball now has two as junior Erin Rooney (Christchurch, New Zealand/Marian College) was recently named to the New Zealand Senior National team. She will compete for the team as they head into Olympic Qualifying for the upcoming London Games. Rooney, who will trade in Fordham's maroon and white jersey for her native team's black and white number nine shirt, joins former Ram Mobolaji Akiode, who played for the Nigerian National Team at the 2004 Olympics.
Rooney represented New Zealand through the Basketball New Zealand age group program and first wore the Tall Ferns uniform against the University of Wisconsin in 2007. She returned to the national scene against Japan in 2009, but has not played with the team since coming to the United States for college.
Rooney had to sit out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer regulations, but she is familiar with Fordham head coach Stephanie Gaitley, as the Christchurch native followed Gaitley to Fordham from Monmouth University, prior to last season. Rooney played for two years at Monmouth where she was named the 2010-11 NEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach Gaitley reflected on Rooney's accomplishment, "We are all very proud of Erin. This has been one of her main goals throughout the red-shirt season. All of us at Fordham wish her all the best as they try and secure an Olympic birth."
Rooney and her fellow New Zealanders will have an opportunity to earn a spot in the 2012 Games as the Tall Ferns head to Turkey to compete in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The team, representing the Oceania division, is one of 12 sides battling for the final five Olympic spots. Competition begins on June 25 and runs through July 1 with play divided up into four groups of three teams with the top two in each group progressing to the quarterfinals. New Zealand has been grouped with the Czech Republic and Argentina.
The four quarterfinal winners will advance to the 2012 London Games as will the winner of a two-game playoff among the four quarterfinal losers. In 2008, Belarus, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Spain and Latvia took the five spots in Athens.
The Tall Ferns, who are currently in a tour of China, have a challenging task ahead of them. The team has to make up for the loss of Beijing Olympian guard, Suzie Bates, but Tall Ferns' Head Coach Kennedy Kereama likes what he sees in his guard, "Rooney possesses a tremendous work ethic and she did what we asked of her to make a positive contribution to the team. Other players can look as a positive leader based on her work ethic."
Rooney, a Christchurch native who has two years of eligibility remaining, will begin her first year of competition with the Rams in 2012-13. She will bring her talents to the Fordham backcourt as the Rams look to make up for the graduation of Becky Peters, Fordham's seventh all-time leading scorer.
Akiode, a 2003 Fordham graduate who is ranked among the school's top ten in both scoring and rebounding, was a member of the Nigerian National Team in 2004 and 2006, competing in the 2004 Olympic Games and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. She is the founder of Hope 4 Girls Nigeria , a nonprofit organization dedicated to the increased participation and empowerment of disadvantaged young African women in sports and education.