CLASS OF 1989
The Rooneys of Orangeburg kept Tappan Zee athletics in the headlines for more than a decade. All-County swimmer Brian, class of 1987, two-sport captain Maura ’92, and 1,000-point scorer Sarah ’97 were stars in their own right. Brother Tom ’89 added to the family legacy with a multi-sport record of performance and leadership qualities that were a hallmark of Tom and Sally Rooney’s talented offspring.
Tom the younger captained all three of his teams senior year. In football, in which he made All-County and All-Section, he set a Rockland record for passing yards in a season with 1,579, and school marks with 12 TDs and 111 completions. Tom led the ’88 Dutchies to their first winning season in a decade and a 4-4-1 record in ’87, when they beat Nyack in what Tom called a “watershed moment” in reversing the team’s fortunes, coming after two nearly winless seasons. He also relishes the ’88 victory over archrival Pearl River in the Orange Bowl game, throwing three TD passes including one to favorite receiver Tom O’Dowd, who also set a County mark that season with 51 receptions.
In basketball, Tom was a two-year starting point guard and All-County performer who helped lead the ’89 team to a solid 14-7 mark. He ranks Tappan Zee’s home upset of Woodlands, then Section 1’s top-ranked team, as among his most cherished memories on the court. In baseball, Tom was a three-year starting shortstop and leadoff batter who in ‘89 had a .300-plus batting average, 2 home runs and 15 steals, including stealing home.
Tom grew up playing soccer, basketball and baseball, and added Gaelic football and organized football in seventh grade. His father thought football would be a one-year fling but Tom proved him wrong, starting as a right guard but earning the QB role in eighth grade and launching what became a stellar career. Among his closest teammates were O’Dowd, with whom he’s still very close, Pat and Dan Lenihan, Brendan McHugh, John Davidson, Kevin Clancy, William Kivlehan and Brian Sullivan. Tom’s head coaches were Gus Lindine in football, Frank Gambeski in basketball and Bill Lynch in baseball.
Tom was recruited to play basketball at Scranton, a Div. III school, but an injury his freshman year and a request by lacrosse squad members to try out for their team led him to a sport he calls “basketball with sticks. My basketball background helped me a lot in lacrosse.” He worked feverishly to refine his skills and in his senior year made starting offensive midfielder and team captain, and was third-leading scorer.
Tom obtained his teaching certification at St. Thomas Aquinas and taught at St. Joseph Regional, Elmwood Park, N.J., and Hewlett, L.I., before arriving in 1999 in Syosset, L.I., where’s he’s been ever since. He teaches social studies and is coordinator of an alternative high school within the school. He was defensive coordinator for Syosset’s lacrosse team, which made the 2008 State Class A title game, and is now head coach at Port Washington Schreiber. He also head-coached the Bermuda national lacrosse team at the 2006 World Championships. Tom, 41, and his wife of 16 years, Christine, have five children: Tommy, 13; Jack, 11; Katie, 9; Danny, 5; and Sarah, who turns 4 on Nov. 13.