Written By: Evan Oscherwitz
For Kira Pevow, the 2022 Maccabiah will represent more than just a return to her roots. At the games, the promising 15-year-old center back from Houston, Texas will also return to the playing field for the first time in nearly a year.
Just two weeks after earning her spot on the USA U16 soccer squad last fall, Pevow suffered a catastrophic knee injury that nearly shattered her dream of competing in Israel. One major surgery and several months of intense rehabilitation later, she is nearing a return to competition, and the chance to play on the biggest stage of her career so far.
“I think she’s been a champ,” Kira’s father Fred Pevow said. “I’ve been most impressed by her resilience and work ethic; but it’s not something we want to go through [again].”
Pevow sustained her injury on a rather routine play during club competition. As she attempted to shield the ball from an opposing player, her left knee buckled, resulting in damage so severe that doctors characterized it as more likely to stem from a car crash than a sports injury.
“After the play, I just laid on the ground and didn’t really know what happened,” she said. “My teammate had a kneecap injury before and she was back within a couple of months. I thought maybe that happened to me, but I was wrong.”
Since undergoing a major reconstructive surgery to repair her knee, Pevow has voraciously attacked her rehab process, attending strength training sessions and physical therapy multiple times a week. While she says the mobility in her knee has been completely restored, she must clear a few more hurdles before returning to play.
“I still need to pass a round of testing (before I get cleared),” she said. “I’m practicing my jumping, my balance and my strength. I definitely need to get a lot stronger. I only started running three months ago so I definitely don’t think I’m in game shape yet but so far (my rehab) has been going well.”
Although signs point to Pevow returning to the field in time to play in the Maccabiah, she has committed to joining the team in Israel whether or not she gets cleared to play. So far, she and her U16 teammates have only been able to communicate over text, but she says the group has meshed together nicely and she expects to form lasting relationships with the other U16 players.
“I know that’s going to be a family forever,” she said. “If unfortunately I can’t play, I’d like to be there for my teammates and support them from the sidelines. I’m super excited about that environment.”
Even if Pevow is not cleared to play in the games, her inevitable return to competition is sure to be an emotional moment for the young prodigy, whether that return comes in Israel or elsewhere. As her long and winding road to recovery nears its end, she can only look forward to the moment when she steps back onto the field for the first time.
“I know I’m going to be overwhelmed,” she said, “Especially after not playing for so long. My hope is that I’ll feel the rush of energy that I usually do, and I’ll make sure that I’m ready when I take the field again.”