Few would deny that Kevin Rooney is a busy man. The senior captain and defensive lineman will graduate at the end of this semester with a degree in history. For the past four years, he’s anchored the football team’s defensive line, which has been among the toughest in the Ivy League.
But for Rooney, there is always time for Louis. As a mentor in One-on-One Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca, Rooney has had the opportunity to watch Louis grow over the past three years. It’s difficult to know, however, who the relationship has benefited more — Louis or Rooney.
“It’s not a chore for me to hang out with him, he’s a good kid, and I just try to be there for him and be whatever he needs me to be — be his friend, hang out and play sports with him, give him advice, whatever I can do,” Rooney said. “I appreciate him being there. He helps give me a break from the hectic schedule that I have.”
Rooney, like other big siblings involved in this program, serves as a de facto role model to area children like Louis. A highly popular program among Cornell students, Big Brothers Big Sisters has afforded Rooney the chance to give back to the community that supports him and his Red teammates.
“It’s a great opportunity to have an impact on one child’s life. A lot of things you do are in a big group and you can’t necessarily see how what you’re doing impacts a person’s life, one-on-one is a huge thing. I think it’s a great program. You can see what you’re doing. You can see the impact of the program over time,” he said.
“It gives you perspective on where we are in our lives.”
This program is just one of many that Rooney is a part of. He is also an active member of the Red Key Honor Society, the Sphinx Head Senior Honor Society, the Golden Key Honor Society, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and he serves as vice president of Cornell’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He also participates in the Big Red Readers program and volunteers at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center.
But Big Brothers Big Sisters was Rooney’s first exposure to community involvement.
“Coach Noyes [Pete Noyes, Director of Football Operations], first brought it to the attention of the team that this is something that we could get involved with, that we could work it around our football schedule,” said Rooney. “That was the first I first heard about it. Then the first year, about six or seven of us got involved, and it’s grown since then.
“Coach Noyes has done a good job of getting us involved in that and the Big Red Readers problem.”
As for Louis, the benefits have been undeniable.
“He’s totally on the ball. He’s doing very well in school, he’s very driven — he wants to do well. He’s playing football and basketball, and he’s the student council treasurer,” said Rooney. “He’s just really putting himself out there, he’s also a really great role model for his brothers and sisters. He has four brothers and sisters now and he’s the oldest, and I think they’re looking up to him as he’s looking up to me, and he’s doing a great job.”
Archived article by Owen Bochner