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Barberton High School has a long and rich history in boys basketball. Great players such as Harry Brokaw, Art Bosnak, Mark and Marty Bodnar, Fred Johnson, Brian Bidlingmyer, Tom Brabson, Alvin and Kenny Robertson. Coaches such as Jimmy Price, Bo Dutton, Roger Cramer, Ken Rector and the legendary Jack Greynolds. The 1976 Barberton State Championship Team, the State Runners-Up of 1977 and 1982 and several other teams that could have just as easily won the State Championship. They, and many others, have contributed to the great tradition of Barberton Boys Basketball. But there is one man who achieved great success in the game of basketball who is completely unknown to his hometown. He is unknown as he never played or coached a single basketball game for Barberton.
Ed Rooney graduated from Barberton High school in 1944. Standing six feet five inches tall, Rooney played offensive and defensive end for Karl Harter’s football team. After graduation, Rooney joined the navy and served during the Second World War. With the war ending and being discharged from the Navy, Rooney enrolled at Pacific University. Rooney continued to play football and also took up the game of basketball. He excelled in both sports earning All-Northwest Conference accolades as a senior in both football and basketball. He was also a starting end on Pacific’s conference football championship team in 1949.
Rooney then became a high school teacher and boys basketball coach. He coached boys basketball for twenty-four years at Jacksonville, St. Helens and Grant high schools, all in Oregon. He won an incredible 418 games during his career and won State Championships at St. Helens in 1956 and at Grant in 1969. His championship with Grant in 1969 not only showed his ability as a coach but his character as a person. For that season, Rooney started African-American players on his team. It was a decision that did not sit well with some and resulted in a cross being burned in his yard. Undeterred, Rooney did not alter his lineup and guided Grant to that State Championship.
Rooney ended his career by coaching the Women’s Basketball team at Portland University for two seasons compiling a winning record of 32-19. He also appeared as a guest on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. Ed Rooney passed away on August 21st, 2013 at the age of 86. He has been inducted into the Grant High School Hall of Fame, The Portland Interscholastic League Hall of Fame and the Pacific University Hall of Fame.