James (Jim) Rooney

Jim Rooney

Portrait by Robert Howson

Jim Rooney has been a fixture in the Guelph sports scene for decades – his trademark mustache and positive attitude filling many a rink and sports field.
He was co-owner, president, and governor for the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm from 1991-2006. During that time the Storm participated in four Memorial Cups and won two OHL championships in 1998 and 2004. He was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the OHL from 1995-2001 overseeing the largest league expansion program when they grew from 16 to 20 teams in the 1990s.

Rooney was involved with Storm players on many levels including being the principal at Bishop Macdonell and Our Lady of Lourdes high schools where many of the players attended. He believed education was important and ensured the Storm had one of the best education programs in the country with three Guelph players winning the OHL Scholastic award – Jamie Wright, Dustin Brown (3 times), and Manny Malhotra.

In 2001 he became commissioner of the historic lntercounty Baseball League, a position he held until 2009. One year later he became owner of the Guelph Royals Baseball Club, keeping baseball alive in the Royal City – a franchise that has existed since the league began in 1919.

“Sport is the fabric of every community,” said Rooney. “It reflects the best in people and gives you the opportunity to give back and build community. The relationships you establish in sports are everlasting bonds. They create memories, keep families together, a community together, and generate a sense of
‘team’ you cherish for a lifetime.”

Rooney was not only an executive but coached minor baseball and hockey in the Stanley Stick organization. He was co-chair of the Ontario Winter Games in 2002-2003, and fulfilled a childhood dream of representing his country as a member of Team Canada’s first U 18 gold medal winning hockey team in Russia in 2003, as the club’s educational consultant.
Jim Rooney was a man that derived great pleasure in helping young people excel in sports and in the classroom, while providing his community with teams of which they could be proud.

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Builder category – on May 17, 2017