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Niles North's Karime Assaf making strides after rehab

11/27/2012, 5:53pm CST
By Mark Perlman

Karime Assaf suffered a knee injury last year that sidelined her for the rest of the season. Her recovery is paying dividends as she returns to the court.


Skokie Friday 11/23/12 Wheeling's#32 Brie Majkowski and Niles North's#24 Rachael Matthies chase after a loose ball during the Niles North Thanksgiving Tournament. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media

Karime Assaf is back on the court, but her road to recovery has been long.

The Niles North senior tore the ACL in her right knee in practice just after Christmas in 2011 and has undergone nearly eight months of rehabilitation.

“It was devastating,” Niles North coach Dan Paxson said. “She’s a tough kid, but to hear her scream, you knew something bad happened.”

Assaf’s rehab continues via physical therapy each week.

“I just came down wrong, and it popped,” said Assaf, adding, “I really worked hard to get to the point where I’m able to play again.”

Her teammates are thrilled to have the energetic center back.

“It’s definitely inspiring,” senior guard Rachel Matthies said. “You can ask anyone. Coaches, players, fans, anyone about what she did to come back after an injury like that.”

Paxson added: “I thought she might be discouraged, maybe even afraid to come back. But almost immediately after the surgery, she said, ‘Coach, I want to come back.’ She was real excited to play again.”

Conditioning has been slow for Assaf, a starter for the Vikings (0-5) who is substituted after 4-minute spurts.

“Hopefully my conditioning will improve,” Assaf said. “I’m working real hard. With determination and passion, I can get there.”

She is averaging just under three points per game. In a 53-33 loss to Wheeling on Saturday at the Niles North Somebody’s Hero Girls Thanksgiving tournament, Assaf had a team-high eight rebounds.

“My responsibilities are screening, rebounding and playing defense,” said Assaf, who is a middle blocker on the Vikings volleyball team and a goaltender in soccer. “I have to work on my offense, though.”

Assaf’s coach is confident she will keep improving.

“She’s getting there,” Paxson said. “I don’t have any doubt that in the next couple of weeks, she’s going to be there.”~.

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