Brooke Rooney hadn’t played goalkeeper until she was put into the commanding defensive position in the Port Stephens representative squad. She had always preferred goal defence, and gravitated towards the roaming defensive role.
Then, her Port Stephens coaches spoke to her about making the switch. During her two years with the northern team, she settled into the new spot on the court, and began to fell in love with being the team’s rearguard defence.
Then, when she began learning off Giants keeper Sam Poolman in the Newcastle star’s Aspire program, she knew she’d found her place on the netball court.
“Goal defence was my main position for a long time, and it wasn’t until I was in Port Stephens that went back to goalkeeper,” Rooney explained.
“Now, I’ve fallen in love with the role. I met Sam and she helped me really understand exactly what I have to do when I’m playing keeper, and all of that has just made me want to keep going at the position.
“Every single time I practiced with her I felt like I came away with something new, and it made me a better player. Now, I want to be the next Sam.”
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Rooney has spent a great deal of her formative netball years playing in select squads. She was part of the Hunter Academy of Sport Development team in 2019, starred for Port Stephens 13s and 14s, and played in Maitland’s under 11s development squad.
In clubland, she can’t get enough. She plays for Medowie in Port Stephens – with whom she won the championship in 2019, and was named the league’s most consistent player – and represents Patterson in Maitland.
The 14-year-old very nearly achieved the double across the two regional competitions, after her first-place triumph in Port Stephens was paired with a runners-up accolade in Maitland. Rooney admits she’s still “pretty stoked” with her year went.
As well as Sam, Brooke revealed that her Port Stephens coach Laura Nolan, who herself is no stranger to high-level competition like the NSW Metro League and the Greater Open, also had a hand in her development.
“I loved the opportunities and friends that I’ve had and made in Port Stephens, and the coaches, especially Laura, have been fantastic as well. She encouraged me so much, and pushed me to do my best. She’s taught me so much,” Rooney said.
Now, Brooke has returned to Maitland’s representative system, qualifying for the association’s development squad in 2019 and beyond. With the teachings from Sam and Laura under her belt, and armed with a new position, she’s ready for anything.
“I’ve been playing netball now for nearly 10 years, and I just want to keep playing. I love being a goalkeeper now, and learning these new things. I’m always looking forward to playing the next game,” the rising netball star said.
If you are interested in joining Sam Poolman’s Aspire program, you can register for one of the program’s limited spots at aspirenetball.com/registration.
Read the rest of the Chronicle’s ongoing Aspire features here.