'I'll really do anything it takes to get there,' Perham's Rooney driven in recovery from knee injury
Perham senior Noah Rooney continues to rehabilitate from a knee injury that cost him his senior season on the diamond.
PERHAM -- Noah Rooney's journey to being a top-three arm coming out of the state of Minnesota began several years ago.
"Playing varsity, I first started my eighth-grade year," said the Perham senior. "That's something I've definitely loved the opportunity to do most of my life."
By his 10th-grade year, Rooney was a top-of-the-rotation arm for the Yellow Jackets, who captured the Section 8AA championship and made a run at state.
His junior year, COVID struck, and his opportunity to toe the rubber as Perham's ace out the window. But after a strong summer of playing travel baseball, Rooney committed to play baseball for the Gophers in August.
"I'm just so excited to be a Gopher," he said.
In October, a crushing blow came for Rooney, who's also a captain on the Perham football team.
"I definitely was in a lot of pain, something I've never really experienced before," he recalled.
His world flipped upside down one Friday night against DGF.
"It was a little bit of a weird play," he started. "I ran a little drag route across the middle and the ball got topped at the line, so I kinda had to come back to catch it. He tackled me from behind and my leg just kinda gave out."
A diagnosis confirmed Rooney suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and a tear of both menisci.
"The first kinda moments that it happened I thought, 'Oh, what's it gonna look like in the next six months, the next year?' Rooney wondered.
His senior year of baseball over before he could even throw a pitch.
"Probably one of the worst feelings," he said. "Not just missing my senior year of baseball, but also just being not at all - like the practices and competing with the boys."
"He's a very strong kid, but when you are 17 years old, and you have a devastating injury, and you just got done signing with the Gophers," began Perham head baseball coach James Mulcahy.
Mulcahy believes in Rooney's ability to recover. Just days after his surgery, Rooney was back on the sidelines with his teammates.
"They realize Noah can overcome adversity," said Mulcahy. "I knew he'd be able to overcome it."
As for his rehab, Rooney's got his coach to lean on in that department. Mulcahy went through a similar experience.
"ACL actually twice, and a knee replacement just over three and a half years ago," said Mulcahy. "I was able to give him some advice, some of the ins and outs of these days you're gonna hurt...I mean it's silly old things as an old man might do."
But those words are what helps push Noah forward. For three hours each day, Rooney rehabilitates with one goal in mind.
"After my injury I told myself that I was gonna do whatever it takes to get back on that field," he said. "I believe that I'll be able to get back to form, I'll really do anything it takes to get there."
When the road to recovery gets bumpy, Rooney leans on his support system.
"I've had a lot of people who have had a great influence on me, have been in my ear every day just telling me to continue to work hard and everything's gonna work out," he said.
Recently, Noah reached a milestone in his recovery process. He began throwing for the first time.
"That was one of the greatest reliefs I've ever felt. Being away from the game so long, I didn't know how much I really love baseball and to be able to just get back out there and throwing has been a joy," said Rooney.
It's been an arduous journey for Rooney, but it's one he doesn't regret one bit.
"As I've kind've looked back on it, it's something I definitely would've done again," he said of playing football last fall. "I think it's really important to compete in anything you do."
Rooney is set to step foot on the Minnesota campus this fall. He says his coaches there have been "fantastic" and have worked "hand-in-hand" with Noah throughout this process.