Bright and vibrant, like stadium lights on a Friday night, Westfield High School senior, Jeannelle Rooney, is as spirited as the sidelines of her favorite football games.
A manager for the football team, Jeannelle, 17, is fighting pediatric melanoma. First diagnosed in December of 2017, she was re-diagnosed in March after a brief remission. However, it has never kept her from a Westfield Shamrocks game.
“She’s quite the boisterous sideline viewer, she’s very loud,” says her mother, Lisa Rooney.
A lover of sports, Jeannelle’s responsibility as a manager started in middle school, where she managed the wrestling team for four years. A Westfield native – since the wee age of one – Jeannelle’s been a Shamrock fan for years.
However, it came as a surprise to her family when she decided to make a switch from wrestling to football.
“It was a surprise when she chose to become a football manager,” Lisa says. “She didn’t really know too much about it. When she started as a freshman, there were some great upperclassmen that trained her.”
After asking Coach Jake Gilbert if she could be a manager, Jeannelle has since seen four fruitful years of managing, never missing a single game until this past year, due to her battle.
“She saves up all of her energy for Friday Night Football,” Lisa says.
One of four, Jeannelle’s love of Westfield football is rivaled by her love for Westfield wrestling, where she watches her youngest brother, a sophomore, duke it out on the mat.
And even through treatments, infusions and surgeries, Jeannelle has remained as loyal as one could be to Westfield athletics. A dedicated student, sports aren’t the only thing Jeannelle has a passion for.
“She loves art, any kind of art – photography, drawing, painting and coloring,” Lisa adds. “That has continued on, but this year, her pain has been worse since she restarted infusions and treatments. When she can, she does some digital artwork on her iPad.”
And though she can still enjoy the Friday night lights, the pandemic has affected Jeannelle’s schooling, as well as her interaction and socialization with friends.
“She loves to be social, and she’s had to go to virtual learning so she misses school,” Lisa says. “She misses the fun of being a high school senior.”
But, the pandemic has allowed Jeannelle Rooney to enjoy her great taste in television and film. Her favorite television show (which many will appreciate) is “The Office.” She’s also a fan of the “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” series, and Disney’s “Moana.”
As winter approaches and the guys hang up their cleats for the season, Jeannelle will look forward to watching her brother compete in her other favorite sport – wrestling.
Though the stadium lights will be off for a little while, and the stands empty, manager and avid fan, Jeannelle Rooney, will always have her place amongst a community so supportive of her.
“The community has been so awesome to us and have embraced us as family,” Lisa says. “We try to be as supportive to others as they’ve been to us this last year.”
If you want to keep up with her journey, you can find her Caring Bridge page by typing in her name, Jeannelle Rooney, or by her website name, “Give Em Hell Jeannelle.”