NEW CASTLE —
Jordon Rooney will be a busy man next month. And that has very little to do with Christmas.
The 23-year-old will compete in a pair of football games a little over a week apart near the end of December. He’ll play for Team Europe in the Euro-American Challenge on Dec. 20 in Myrtle Beach and pull on the Team USA jersey eight days later in the CanAm Bowl in Minneapolis.
NO REST FOR THE WEARY
The 2008 Union High and 2012 Westminster College graduate will leave on Dec. 16 for the Euro-American Challenge and return to New Castle on Dec. 21, before leaving Christmas night for the CanAm Bowl.
“I have a busy schedule,” said the son of Mike Rooney and Jodie Sizer. “I’m not going to let the opportunity slip. I’ll be working hard up until the games. I’ll be ready mentally and physically.”
Rooney will suit up for Team Europe in the Euro-American Challenge, which only accepted 12 percent of its applicants and had 70 percent of its players earn a professional contract in 2013.
The event features recent college graduates from the United States and Europe and current/former professional players looking for a new contract.
“I got a message from this guy, who runs the Euro-American Challenge,” Rooney said. “He said European players aren’t as good as American players and they needed American players that had played in Europe to represent Team Europe. There’s a couple guys on Team USA that were in NFL camps this year. The competition is going to be intense.”
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Rooney found out about the CanAm Bowl while searching the Internet for games to play in. He sent in his film and was invited to play.
“I was looking online at different bowl games,” said Rooney, who received sponsorships from five local businesses to help cover transportation, meals and lodging for both events. “They were looking for players to play for Team USA to go up against Team Canada and I said ‘Why not?’ This could be a great experience for me. It’ll be great exposure.”
The Euro-American Challenge offers more opportunities than the CanAm Bowl, Rooney noted.
“The Senior Bowl is the next day and they’re having a job fair,” he said. “The game in Myrtle Beach (Euro-American Challenge), I’m looking forward to a little bit more, because there’ll be scouts there from every different level. I’m definitely excited.”
The CanAm Bowl does have its perks.
“Putting on the Team USA jersey is going to be kind of cool no matter what it’s for,” Rooney said. “It’s going to be weird playing against Team USA (in the Euro-American Challenge). My friends aren’t sure who to root for. I told them to root for me.”
American and international scouts will be in attendance at both events, but Rooney said it’s important to perform well in the game as well as on the practice field.
“I think it’s important to do well in both,” he said. “To be able to differentiate would be hard. My mindset is I’m going to perform well in practice and in the games. I don’t even think like that.
“When I was younger, I’d feel pressure in different situations. Now, I’m just so grateful for the opportunities that I don’t feel pressure. I feel like I’m giving myself no choice but to succeed. It’s more me embracing what’s going to happen.”