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Offseason Leg Surgery Doesn't Slow Three-Sport Francis Parker Athlete

By Matt McKinney | February 3, 2014 9:44am
 Paris Rosenthal, a three-sport athlete at Francis Parker, recovered from leg surgery.
Paris Rosenthal
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LINCOLN PARK — The pressure in Paris Rosenthal's legs started sometime during her freshman year.

It followed her on the basketball court and soccer field, in practice and games.

"I tried to ignore it, but I'd run and my legs would just get super tight," she said.

Rosenthal, a three-sport athlete at Francis W. Parker High School, figured she was just dehydrated or overworked. But the soreness kept building.

By spring of her freshman year — soccer season — she said there were times she'd "collapse on the field" because the pain was so severe. 

"It just got to the point where I couldn't stand it," said Rosenthal, now a junior. 

Doctors diagnosed her with "compartment syndrome," which caused poor circulation and pressure in her calves.

They said she'd have to undergo surgery in May — her soccer season was done. 

"Not knowing if I was going to be able to play again was devastating," she said.

As she worked through six weeks of physical therapy and hobbled around on crutches, her Parker teammates won their second straight IHSA 1A state title.

"I was so happy for my coaches and teammates, but it just wasn't the same not being out there," she said.  "Not playing gave me a whole different perspective."

After Rosenthal recovered from surgery, she worked on lower body exercises and joined the cross-country team to rebuild her conditioning.

That was a relief for Parker girls basketball coach Lamar Butler, who relies on the 5-foot-6 forward for "just about everything." 

"Paris is somebody who's tenacious. She brings great energy. You literally have to pry her from missing something," he said.

Rosenthal was back in time for the first day of practice and hasn't sat out since. 

"She hasn't missed a beat. You'd never know that she was under the knife just a few months ago," Butler said.

This season, Rosenthal has contributed in the same way she always did — deflecting passes, hustling for loose balls and encouraging her teammates.

And for the Parker Colonels, who have just seven players on their varsity roster, her presence has been much appreciated. 

"The fact that she was able to come back and not miss a heartbeat, that takes a special player," Butler said.

Rosenthal called the experience "transformative" and said her rehabilitation helped bring her closer to her friends, family and coaches.

"I couldn't have done it without them. They were encouraging me the whole way," she said.

Today Rosenthal has six scars on her legs, reminders of her road back to health.

"I'm certainly not embarrassed by the scars, but they are definitely noticeable and different … just a small reminder of the journey I went through," she said.

Rosenthal was running at her gym recently when a man stopped her and asked about the scars. He said his son had undergone the same surgery and wished her luck.

"Ultimately it's a reminder to never take anything for granted," she said.