Perham senior Noah Rooney has quite the connection with the University of Minnesota.

Growing up, the left-handed pitcher could be found with family and friends spending Fall Saturday’s watching the Golden Gopher football team. Now, the pitcher will have an opportunity to don the Golden Gopher Maroon and Gold when he steps on the baseball diamond as a member of the Gopher Baseball team.

The senior pitcher announced his commitment to the Golden Gophers on Twitter and Instagram on Sept. 14. Rooney said it was always his dream to be a pitcher for the Golden Gophers.

“It’s a great feeling. Having the opportunity to live out a dream you have had since you were three years old, have the feeling you completed it and live out that dream is a great feeling,“ Rooney said. “It’s really cool to see the amount of people who have supported me throughout my career and life in general that have reached out and said how proud they are of me. It’s a great feeling. I look to continue to make them proud and get better in every aspect of life during this journey.”

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Rooney said his decision came down to three schools and ultimately it was the University of Minnesota that was on the top of his list. Rooney said his final decision was between the Golden Gophers, the University of Michigan and Pittsburgh. He said achieving a lifelong dream was what set the Golden Gophers apart from the other two schools.

“I actually went to the first Minnesota football game at TCF Bank Stadium and that was a really cool experience for me,” Rooney said. “Another was the culture they have. Coach (John) Anderson always talks about getting ready for the next 50 years of your life. That really put everything into perspective. At the end of the day, baseball is going to kick you out the door, you are either washed up or you are not good enough anymore and you will have to move on in life. Having the ability to take the step back from baseball and see what your working career is going to look like is a great opportunity and I think they do a great job of that.”

Rooney said his future goal with the Golden Gophers is to win a Big Ten Championship and compete for a spot at the College World Series in Omaha. He said that’s every college baseball player’s goal.

“I think the Gophers have done a great job with this 2021 recruiting class. I had the opportunity to meet every single one of the guys and it seems like they want the same things that I do,” Rooney said. “I’m excited to get down there to continue to compete, get better every single day and I’m really excited for that and I’m excited to be a Gopher.”

The lefty became highly sought after by Division 1 colleges after a strong sophomore baseball season, helping the Yellowjackets to the Section 8AA Championship and Class AA Tournament. While his junior season with the Perham Yellowjackets did not happen due to COVID-19, the lefty put in countless hours working with Starters out of the Twin Cities and played in several travel ball tournaments. Rooney’s stock surged during the summer and continued to grow when the pitcher hit the 90 mile per hour mark during an outing in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Perham baseball head coach James Mulcahy said the Gophers are getting an exceptional kid, top-to-bottom when they get Rooney.

Perham's Noah Rooney was all smiles after connecting for a solo home run and is greeted by Perham coach James Mulcahy as he rounds third base in a recent game against Warroad. ( Jason Groth / Perham Focus)
Perham's Noah Rooney was all smiles after connecting for a solo home run and is greeted by Perham coach James Mulcahy as he rounds third base in a recent game against Warroad. ( Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

“He is a 3.99 kid in the classroom and he is one of the most respectful kids I have ever coached,” Mulcahy said. “He is a hard-worker and goes above and beyond for his teammates. He will do anything for anyone and is the kind of kid who will give you the shirt off his back. He is a lead by example kind of kid and he is exactly what you want from a person in general, let alone even an athlete.”

Mulcahy said that sophomore season showed that Rooney belonged and had that kind of potential. Rooney usually was the youngest kid on the team, being called up to older teams due to his talent.

“It helped his confidence along the way. He was always kind of looking over his shoulder. In his eighth grade year he was called up to varsity down the stretch and then in his ninth grade year, he was on a team with a lot of older kids, even though he had the talent. When he was the No. 1 or No. 2 starter as a sophomore and helped us in our state run, that boosted a lot of his confidence and realizing how far he can go,” Mulcahy said. “That picked up everything on his end. Over the course of the last year and a half, he has picked up 8 miles per hour on his fastball. He is diligent with his work. He is the first one in the weight room every single morning or one of the first ones there. He is dedicated to the weight program, his stretching routine and his bullpens. He doesn’t cut any corners.”

Perham's Noah Rooney gets ready to wind and fire while pitching for the Starters team during the summer of 2020. (Submitted photo)
Perham's Noah Rooney gets ready to wind and fire while pitching for the Starters team during the summer of 2020. (Submitted photo)

Mulcahy said the Gophers are not only getting a great athlete, but an even better person.

“The Gophers are getting a good person. Not only a good person and a good player, they are getting a good person,” Mulcahy said. “I’m glad for the kid and he is rewarded for all of his hard work. I know this doesn’t stop him and he will probably work even harder, knowing he has the next level of goals. Not only to get through our high school season and what that will look like the next nine months, but I know that time in the weight room has benefited him and now that he sees it, he is probably going to increase his workload that much more. He is going to work even harder and that’s a big part of him. I’m looking forward to everything and looking forward to driving down to Minneapolis a couple times in the spring to watch him.”

Rooney said it feels terrific to achieve this dream of his and said he couldn’t be more thankful for all the people that supported him in his life.

“I have had so many different coaches in every sport I have been in, whether it was baseball, wrestling or football and each of them have had a huge impact on my life and helped me become the person I am today and the athlete I am,” Rooney said. “I’m so incredibly thankful for them.”