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updated: 7/25/2012 9:27 PM

Patriots' Baader to have ACL surgery

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  • Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com  Stevenson's Rachel Baader spikes the ball during their game against Hersey Monday night at Stevenson High School.

      Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com Stevenson's Rachel Baader spikes the ball during their game against Hersey Monday night at Stevenson High School.

 
 

Say "Hallo" -- Or is it "Gruezi" or "Guten Tag" in German? -- to Rachel Baader, who's aiming to be new and improved in more ways than one in a few months.

Wish Stevenson's volleyball star good luck (English will suffice) on her surgery scheduled for next Thursday, too.

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The operation to repair her torn left ACL will sideline her long enough that she'll miss her senior season for the Patriots. It's a tough break for the 5-foot-10 outside hitter who over Spring Break verbally committed to play Ivy League volleyball for the University of Pennsylvania.

This summer, Baader's Sky High club team was playing Sports Performance at nationals in Orlando, Fla., when she chased a ball near the antennae, jumped and landed on the ref's stand.

"My knee just blew out," Baader said. "I landed and I started yelling out, 'It's broken!' because I heard something. But it turned out that it was a pop rather than a crack. It was my ACL that had torn.

"They had to like drag me off the court."

She actually laughed when recalling that agonizing moment on the court. Go ahead and laugh along with Baader, because she's not crying about her misfortune.

Stevenson volleyball may be melancholy about the reality that its three-year all-area hitter will miss the entire fall season, but the unflappable player isn't about to use any foul language.

She's just going to learn a new language.

And tie an apron on, too.

"It was rough," Baader said of her initial reaction to her season-ending injury. "When I went down, the first things that went through my head were, one, 'I want to be with my team to win nationals,' and, two, 'My high school season.' But, you know, there's nothing I can do about it. That's how I look at it. It happened. I can't say, 'Oh, what if it didn't happen?' Now I just have to deal with it. I have to stick with my physical therapy and stay positive."

She's positively positive about that. So, she plans to use her down time to, in her words, "better myself as a person."

She plans to learn how to cook and how to speak German. Her dad and aunt speak German. She takes Spanish at Stevenson.

Is it any surprise that the bright girl with the bright future (she plans to study finance at Penn) has cooked up a game plan? Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Baader's positive attitude has always been one of her strengths as an athlete and person.

"I've always wanted to learn how to cook, but I've never really had the time," Baader said. "(Last week) I cooked chicken potpies for my family. It was pretty good."

Maybe she'll hit the kitchen and cook up something for her coaches at Penn when she makes an official visit in the fall. After all, after seeing how the coaches attended to her at nationals following her injury, she left Florida with a good taste in her mouth.

"They've been so supportive," Baader said. "They were actually at the game when it happened. They took me to the trainer and everything. My coach was on the phone with her trainer back at Penn, trying to figure out what (the injury) was."

While she waits to have her wounded knee cut open, Baader is doing "pre-hab" so the muscles supporting her knee will be in the best possible shape following surgery. The plan is to have her doing light running in two months and actual volleyball activities in 5-6 months. If all goes well, she could be back playing for her club team in the spring.

Maybe she'll return to the court before Derrick Rose. One of the doctors who performed the ACL surgery on the Bulls' MVP is Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph. He's Baader's orthopedic, as well.

"So I'm going to be doing all the things that Derrick Rose is doing to get better." Baader said, proudly.

The high school volleyball season will be strange at Stevenson with no Baader playing. Siblings Jennifer, Kristen and John all starred for the Patriots.

Jennifer attended the University of Illinois and law school and is preparing to take the bar. Kristen, who played at Boston College, is working for GE. John is studying engineering at Illinois.

"A lot to live up to as the youngest child," Rich and Sue's baby girl said with a laugh.

Baader will still be part of Stevenson's volleyball team. Mind you, all teams need managers and statisticians.

"I'm going to try to manage," Baader said.

She's already managing just fine.

jaguilar@dailyherald.com

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