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Galanopoulos takes on leadership role at Niles West

02/21/2013, 8:38pm CST
By Eric Van Dril

Niles West’s Alex Galanopoulos tore her ACL last summer, which led to her sitting out the season. The junior was a team captain and vocal leader of a young Niles West team.

Niles West's Alex Galanopoulos (right) and Glenbrook South's Molly McDonagh battle for a rebound on January 5, 2012. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

When Alex Galanopoulos looks back on her junior basketball season, June 22, 2012, will always be the point when everything went south.

Galanopoulos tore her left ACL as she went up for a layup at the Doug Bruno Basketball Camp that day. The injury, a complete tear of the ACL and a torn meniscus, required surgery and forced Galanopoulos to miss her junior basketball season after starting as a sophomore.

In spite of the injury, Galanopoulos was one of the Wolves’ two captains this season. The junior concentrated on being a vocal leader — “I was always screaming ... (to) let everyone know what we’re doing,” Galanopoulos said — and provided inexperienced players like sophomores Julia Easter and Katherine De Lara with words of encouragement.

“We had a really young team, so this year was a learning experience for everyone,” Galanopoulos said. “I told them they shouldn’t feel pressure; everyone’s going to make mistakes this year and it’s nothing to worry about. Shake it off, and you’ll be fine.”

Those words of encouragement helped De Lara and her teammates keep pushing, even at the most difficult points of Niles West’s 4-20 season.

“Alex is a really good leader,” De Lara said. “We were in games where (she) could just tell that we wanted to give up, and she would be there to tell us to just keep working at it. That was one of the things about our team: We never game up, no matter what the score was.”

During the early stages of her recovery, Galanopoulos said she cried a lot. But those tears eventually led to motivation.

“I just had to stay strong through it all; crying about it wasn’t going to make it any better,” Galanopoulos said. “So I just have to work really hard at therapy.”

As she approaches month seven of her nine-month road to recovery, Galanopoulos said she is ahead of schedule and will most likely be at full strength near the beginning of May. She says she hopes to play AAU basketball to prepare for her return to Niles West’s lineup next season.

Galanopoulos’ return figures to help improve the team’s ball handling and shooting, two of Niles West’s biggest weaknesses this season.

“I know she’s going to come back strong and be a really important part of our team,” De Lara said.~.

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