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Brennen Rowles should be applauded for his unselfish play, which helped lead Fairfield Union to a historic season

Fairfield Union senior point guard Brennen Rowles was the unquestionable leader for the Falcons, who had a 24-4 overall record and finished with the most wins in school history.
Fairfield Union senior point guard Brennen Rowles was the unquestionable leader for the Falcons, who had a 24-4 overall record and finished with the most wins in school history.

It’s never easy to sacrifice your own personal goals for the betterment of the team.

Fairfield Union senior Brennen Rowles is one of those players. He had the skill set as a ball-handler and a shooter to average more points than he did this season for the Falcons, but he swallowed his pride and put his personal goals aside because he knew it would make the team better.

As a point guard, Rowles ran the show for Fairfield Union. He passed up many scoring opportunities because he knew the offense ran inside to teammates Caleb Schmelzer, Ted Harrah and Caleb Redding. He understood he had to make his own personal sacrifices, and while that sounds easy, it’s not, especially in this day and age when it’s all about me.

Rowles is a different breed. He is competitive by nature, on and off the court. He is an excellent student in the classroom and wants to be the best he can be. He is the true meaning of what it means to be a student-athlete.

However, he also has a lot of pride in what he is doing, and he wants to win. He wants his team to win, and if it means not taking as many shots as he probably should and deserves to take to help the team succeed, he was willing to do that.

Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson

When push came to shove during last Saturday’s Division II regional final against top-ranked and undefeated Bishop Ready, Rowles, sensing his team needed a boost, offensively, stepped up and delivered.

Just because the Silver Knights were an inferior opponent, Rowles wasn’t about to back down. Unlike past tournament games and during the regular season, where he played his role of being more a facilitator on offense, Rowles began to take charge in the first half and became ultra-aggressive.

“We knew we were talented enough to play with those guys, and them being the top seed really didn’t mean anything to us,” Rowles said. “We came out with a fire and had that underdog feeling that we haven’t had all year. That is what led us in the first half.

“As for me personally, I sacrificed some things, and to be honest, that messed up my confidence some throughout this year, but I knew I had to step up and help this team, offensively against Ready. You can’t just win with inside guys, you have to have a good backcourt to win. We are just spot shooters a lot of the time on offense, so I knew I had to take charge and attack a little more against them.”

Rowles’ play helped the Falcons to take a two-point halftime lead. Late in the first quarter with Fairfield Union trailing 10-4, he took the ball right Ready and scored on a driving layup. Early in the second quarter, he shot a rare 3-pointer and connected and then assisted in inside on a Harrah bucket.

Not only did Rowles handle more of the scoring roll in the first half to help stake the Falcons to a surprising lead that had the Ohio University Convocation Center crowd buzzing at halftime, but his ball-handling against a rough and rugged Ready defense, is something shouldn’t be overlooked, either.

Not only did Rowles provide a spark on the floor and in the locker room with his leadership throughout the season, but he brought toughness and grittiness to the Falcons which enabled them to take the next step and reach the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.

Fairfield Union ultimately fell short in the second half against the Silver Knights which ended Falcons’ magical tournament run. They ended with 24 wins which are the most in school history.

The thing I will remember the most about this team is the passion and fire that Rowles played with. His teammates followed his lead, which is one of the reasons Fairfield Union was leading at the heavily favored Silver Knights at halftime. Rowles did a little bit of everything to make sure his team was not intimidated.

He rebounded, he made shots, he took the ball to the basket against much bigger players, he handled the ball, and he dove on the floor to keep offensive possessions alive for his team. More than anything, he sacrificed himself for the team, and it was refreshing to watch – not only on Saturday but the entire season.

Fairfield Union coach Travis Shaeffer said the Falcon’s success was a direct result of Rowles;’ play on the floor and in the locker room.

“I don’t think you can give Brennen enough credit,” Shaeffer said. “He is easily overshadowed by the three guys that do the bulk of our scoring. I think sometimes we lose sight of just how good (Brennen) is. He wants to be a passer first and get those going, but against Ready, he knew he had to do more. He sensed it, but that is what he can do, just change the game from the guard position. His leadership the whole year, showed on the floor, but what he does behind the scenes, is something we are going to miss.

“Yes, he is the point guard, and yes, he facilitates things, but since I got here, I told him you have the keys to the car, you’re in charge of how we go, and he has taken it personally. He has worked very hard, and the way he runs our team is going to be hard for somebody to fill.”

Rowles is the type of player that every coach dreams of having. He is unselfish and puts the team ahead of his own agenda. He is competitive and passionate, cares about his teammates, and he is always going to give you 100 percent every time he steps on the floor.

One would assume that almost every other player has that kind of attitude, but truth be told, they don’t. It’s rare to have a player that has all the qualities the Rowles brings to the table. Even though he wasn’t the team’s leading scorer or rebounder, he had that “It Factor” that allowed the Falcons, to not just be a good team, but a great team. The best in school history. The success the Falcons had this season will last a lifetime.

I first met Brennen Rowles when he was a sophomore. I was interviewing then-senior Ryan Magill, who brought Rowles along just to take in the interview and learn. Rowles did more than that. He took the bull by the horns and dedicated himself to being the best he could be, and more importantly, wanted to make the Falcons the best they could be.

He knew there was so much more they could accomplish. Sure, he would have liked to score more and get more shots, but he was willing to sacrifice, and that is the true meaning of what being a great teammate is. Rowles was never satisfied and was always motivated to make his team better.

It was never about him and Rowles should be applauded for that.

Tom Wilson is a sports reporter for the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. Contact him at 740-689-5150 or via email at twilson@gannett.com for comments or story tips. Follow him on Twitter @twil2323.

This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Fairfield Union's Brennen Rowles should be applauded for his unselfish play