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Editorial Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 21, 2007

Athena poised for the line of fire

In times of peace, young men — and now young women — may have joined the Army to see the world, as the slogan said. Those joining now surmise they will be part of a war.

It’s not a sacrifice to be taken lightly.

One of those who has enlisted for the Army Reserves is Athena Kelly. That her name is the same as the ancient Greek goddess of war, who became the goddess of wisdom, is not lost on us.

She seems both brave and wise beyond her years.

Athena Kelly lives on a farm in Berne and says she would like to join the infantry but can’t because women aren’t allowed in combat.

They’re not allowed "in the line of fire," she explained.

Kelly is now finishing her junior year at Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School, where she has played on the volleyball team for two years, and she sounded like she was prepared to fight to keep playing with her team.

"I really want to play. I love volleyball," she told us last week, with determination in her voice.

She likes sports and she isn’t confined by gender stereotypes.

"If our school had a football team, I’d play football," said Kelly.

She was willing to put herself in the line of fire to do something she loved. She contacted us because she thought her two weeks of boot camp this summer might run afoul of school rules, keeping her off the team. Teachers couldn’t dissuade her as she approached our reporter and later called the news office.

The team practice that Kelly will be missing is meant to get the players in shape, she said, and basic training for the Army will do that for her.

Since our reporter, Tyler Schuling, questioned BKW’s athletic director, Fred Marcil, early last week, he assured us this week, "She’s not going to miss out." Marcil said being away for basic training is "certainly an extenuating circumstance."

We commend the school district for having a policy that allows for worthwhile exceptions.

After all, school teams are part of the educational process. And what would students learn if rigidly-enforced rules kept a young woman like Athena Kelly, who is literally putting her life on the line for her country, from playing with her team in a sport she loves"

What students will learn from the stance expressed by Marcil this week is that individuals matter and a team can be stronger if admirable choices are respected.

We’ll be rooting for Athena and her teammates next fall. Win or lose, they’ve earned our respect.

— Melissa Hale Spencer, editor

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