Kareem Alazem knows where he’ll be in September of 2023.
The Washington, D.C., native and returning Rockets Hockey Club 16U player loves the certainty and having a goal to skate towards - after all he’ll be hitting the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in three years.
“It’s one step,” said Alazem, who knows that nothing is certain until he pulls on an Engineers jersey. “This just happened yesterday [Sept. 24]. I had been talking with them a while and decided to commit.
“From a school standpoint, RPI is one of the top engineering schools in the country - their teams are even called the Engineers,” Alazem added. “I love the staff, I saw a lot of the campus and I loved that. I have a couple buddies who committed there. That helps, and just hearing from them what they say about the school and they had a solid year last year. Coach [Noel] Rubin has spoken a lot about their school positively and thought it would be a good fit for me.”
Alazem is in his second season in the USPHL 16U, though he played technically with the 15U Rockets last year. They were entered as the Rockets Hockey Club Black in the 16U, which allowed Alazem to be selected for the USPHL 16U All-Star Game, helping his Team National to a 7-3 win.
“That was awesome. A couple of the guys from my 15U team were able to play in that as well, and we knew the 16U guys,” said Alazem. “The experience of it all was nice, and I even got to do an interview with The Dan K Show at intermission.”
What makes Alazem an All-Star and an NCAA Division 1 commit at age 16?
“Definitely some lockdown defense, though I jump up in the play when needed. I also bring in a lot of physicality,” said Alazem, who stands 6-feet-2-inches and weighs in at 194 pounds, still with time to grow. “I play the body a lot during the game, I do not give forwards time or space.”
“Kareem is a solid two-way defenseman who can quarterback a power play and be in a shutdown position when holding a lead,” added Rubin. “His meanness and toughnesss make him an intimidating force on the blue line. His offensive awareness is very good and he has an innate ability to join the rush at the right times to add offense. We are so proud of him and congratulate him on his RPI commitment. It has been a lot of fun coaching him these past few seasons.”
He puts all the credit with the Rockets in terms of getting his college deal done so early.
“A huge part of the credit goes to Coach Rubin. I love the Rockets, I have nothing but good things to say, especially with their development path. I can go from 16U this year to 18U, or if I play well enough, I could join the NCDC. That is my goal,” Alazem said. “They do a really good job with exposure and my commitment to RPI proves that point - I would not have had that if not for the Rockets Hockey Club.”
He further credits the non-profit NextGEN AAA Foundation for their help in assisting him in remaining with the Rockets for the entire 2020-21 season. The mission of the NextGEN AAA Foundation (nextgenaaa.org) is to provide mentoring, education, and hockey programs to diverse, low-income, and at-risk youth throughout North America.
“Being of a Middle Eastern background, they helped me find a billet family so I could remain full-season with the Rockets,” said Alazem. “I was going to go to prep school and do just a split season with the Rockets, as I’m from Virginia and it would have been a long ride every weekend. Coach Rubin got me connected with the the NextGEN AAA Foundation.”
The USPHL congratulates Kareem Alazem, his family, the Rockets Hockey Club and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for his commitment.