Boys soccer | season preview

Valparaiso senior midfielder Atassi gains perspective

2012-08-09T19:00:00Z 2012-11-06T17:42:19Z Valparaiso senior midfielder Atassi gains perspectiveJim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com
August 09, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

Several nagging injuries -- including ones which erased his junior season -- could be a major point of frustration for Valparaiso senior midfielder Yamen Atassi.

Atassi is primed for his first healthy varsity season with the Vikings, but he realizes his problems were nothing compared to his family members in war-torn Syria.

Syria has been the site of major civil unrest for more than a year, and one of the focal points of the unrest is Homs, the home for Atassi's relatives.

"They are afraid for their lives. Honestly, I need to be complaining about my (injuries)?" he said. "There's no comparison. It's really sad, and it breaks my heart."

Atassi visits his mosque regularly to offer his prayers to family members and all of those suffering in the country.

"It just blows my mind how much persecution is going on there," said Atassi, who last visited Syria two summers ago. "It just blows my mind that houses I visited could be destroyed and streets I used to walk through with my friends not being the same."

Atassi's father, Keith, is on the phone with family members almost daily, which gives Yamen hope.

"My worries are very trivial to theirs. We ask them, 'Are you alive? How are the cousins and their babies doing?'" said Atassi, who was was born in Valparaiso. "Those kind of conversations are a dose of reality."

Atassi believes these developments have given him some needed perspective about his prep soccer career.

Atassi had a successful junior varsity season as a freshman, but some charley horses and knee bruises limited his sophomore varsity season. Atassi continued to push his body through an ankle injury and developed back problems, which included a herniated disc on his right side. Doctors told him he would miss 8 to 12 weeks, ending his junior soccer campaign.

Now a senior, Atassi said he is closing in on being 100 percent healthy.

"It's taught me to cherish my time on the field," Atassi said. "I feel fortunate to be able to play this season."

Even though Atassi hasn't seen much time on the varsity pitch in his career, Valparaiso coach Danny Jeftich is impressed by his senior's skill set.

"He was the missing link from our attack last season," Jeftich said. "He's just a creator. He feels the game like good athletes do," Jeftich said. "He's a very dangerous 1-(versus)-1 player. He's a key piece to our puzzle."

Atassi just wants to enjoy his final prep soccer season.

"My coaches trust me, and those expectations drive me," he said. "I just want to prove myself.

"I've just grown so much as a person, and now I have a better perspective."

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