Rookwood looks to leave lasting impact at UNO

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October 1st, 2014

Omaha, NE – The UNO soccer program’s first official season was in 2011.

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That year, a skinny kid from Kingston Jamaica walked on campus to help initiate UNO into the world of Division-I college soccer. However, Rookwood said he did not feel out of place in Omaha, except for the weather.

“There were all these wonderful players, all of my teammates became my friends immediately, so I feel like the transition was easy for me,” Rookwood said.

Things started quite nicely for the young freshman, he scored an assist in his, and UNO’s, first college men’s soccer game. It was a 2-1 victory for the Mavericks over UMKC and it was the high-water mark of their inaugural year. Rookwood said that season laid the groundwork for success of future Maverick squads.

UNO's Vance Rookwood (red) leads the Summit League in goals (5) and points (10) (Photo courtesy UNO Athletics)

UNO’s Vance Rookwood (red) leads the Summit League in goals (5) and points (10) (Photo courtesy UNO Athletics)

“I don’t even know how to describe that one game,” Rookwood said. We might have not even deserved to win that one game. We were not ready, but Coach Mims is an awesome coach. He has taken this team so far. I believe we can compete and possibly win game against any team in the nation.”

Rookwood clocked more than 1,000 minutes in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, earning All-Summit League 2nd team recognition after scoring 12 points on five goals and two assists, his sophomore year. Rookwood’s junior year, he was mostly off the bench and in rotation, and he clocked just 759 minutes. However, he still led the team in goals, three of them game winners.

Rookwood played for FC Tucson of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League this past summer. Rookwood shined in the PDL for FC Tucson, scoring a game winner to give the squad a division title.

Now that Rookwood has arrived back on the UNO campus, after his summer in Arizona, he has gained a greater sense of maturity. He knows this is his last go around in college sports and he wants to make a name for himself and the university that gave him a chance.

“It’s our year,” Rookwood said “We’ve been here since the beginning, since my freshman year, since the inaugural year. I feel like we seniors need to play a big role, we need to push the team. We need to push the younger ones and motivate them.”

One stat you cannot miss when looking at Rookwood is his shooting percentage. He shot at a .059 clip in 2011, .192 in 2012, and he shot .148 last year. So far, in 2014, Rookwood is shooting at a .385 rate this year, which places him first in the Summit League (minimum three goals). Rookwood credits his UNO coaches, head coach Jason Mims and assistant Tim Walters, as the main contributing factor for his accomplishments as a player.

“You don’t notice yourself getting better, but you see yourself doing better things,” Rookwood said. “You get mad because they push you so hard, then when you are in the game it is easier. They tell you to do things, and it’s like ‘But I’ve been doing it this way the whole time,’ then when you finally do what they tell you to do, it’s like ‘oh it’s that easy huh?’”

Rookwood scored the game winner for UNO against Eastern Illinois last weekend and is now in first place in both goals scored (5) and points (10). Nevertheless, he said the only stat-line he pays attention to is the final score.

“We’re going to come out working hard, we don’t expect anything to be given,” Rookwood said. “We are going to come out and earn our victories, earn our three points.”

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