A Muslim woman who plays soccer in Utah?!

How cool is that?

Details:

Serene Kergaye’s religion is important to her — so important that she wears a headscarf, long sleeves and long pants even when she’s on the soccer field at Cottonwood High School.

Kergaye is Muslim, and the monochromatic clothes she wears under her uniform during games don’t bother her one bit. They are a way to uphold the modesty standards that are part of her faith.

“It’s really thin and loose. It’s not that hot, I don’t think,” she said. “Yeah, I look kind of weird on the field. I’ll be dressed head to toe in one color, because we have to be either white or black, but oh well, I’d rather play.”

While her coach acknowledges other teams might “do a double take” when they see Kergaye from the sidelines, her teammates know her personally and see beyond the differences.

“She’s just a very sweet person anyway, and the girls just … they love her,” said coach Angela Hamilton.

Kergaye’s uniform might look different compared to her teammates, but state athletic directors say uniform accommodations are built into the rules for every sport in order to protect religious expression.

“(We want) to allow the individuals to maintain practices and still compete,” said Bart Thompson, assistant director of the Utah High School Activities Association.

Each sport has specific rules for uniforms that participants must follow. But within those rules are accommodations for students like Kergaye, who want to play, but have special requirements.

“The rules are written to promote fair, even competition for everybody,” Thompson said. “If you’ve got a situation that doesn’t fundamentally alter the competition, you’re going to be OK.”

In Kergaye’s case, it was a non-issue, since the extra clothing she wears as part of her religious expression in no way impede or alter the way the game is played.

There are similar accommodations for students with prosthetic limbs, religious jewelry and other special circumstances. Thompson said schools always want to encourage participation, so if an accommodation for a specific situation isn’t written into the rule, they’ll find a way to make it work. That’s what happened a few years ago when a Jewish high school student with a beard joined the wrestling team. Rules for wrestling prohibit beards.

The UHSAA obtained permission from the National Federation of State High School Associations that allowed the student to wear a special face mask during play.

“Schools are asking for accommodations to be made in that regard rather than denying,” Thompson said.

Kergaye jumps at the opportunity to show other people the things they have in common and dispel false perceptions.

“We don’t sit in our basements all day and make bombs,” she said. “We play soccer, we play football.”

Check out the rest.

  • http://whiterosebrian.deviantart.com Brian A Cook

    Please excuse me for posting off-topic, but can you comment on this?

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,787314,00.html

    Even though I sympathize with the noblest ideals of liberalism and “the media” and the factoids included are likely to be true, this still smacks of a one-sided and oversimplified partisan attack.

  • http://facebook.com/morpex Patrick Rincon

    Well played Deacon. We need more positive coverage mutually and good feelings in general between Catholics and Muslims.

  • kenneth

    That’s the solution to radical Islam! Not merely soccer but soccer hooliganism! There’s abundant angry young man energy in the Muslim world these days. Instead of bombing other people because they’re the wrong religion, give them a flogging because they’re wearing the wrong colors and because you’ve been drinking Stella tall boys since 9 a.m.!

  • Greta

    There never has been a problem in the USA for this type of thing as we allow freedom of religion. It use to be even stronger when folks here followed the actual text of the Constitution stating “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. The problems came when the judges, led by a known Democrat and Catholic hating KKK supreme court judge Hugo Black, “discovered the lie of separation of church and state. Now we have all kinds of laws restricting the free practice of religion since they have made the state favored religion aethism.
    The problem as we all know is in countries where this persons religion does not allow the free excercise of religion and in fact demands conversion or a life of hell on earth for any that dare go against the Koran. Wonder how the muslims would feel if this woman decided to marry a Catholic and convert?

    What we need are stories like this happening in muslim countries where a Catholic or Jew is welcomed onto the school soccor team.

    So yes, great story to show how good this country is and by difference, how horrible those countries led by the religion of peace are in the world.

  • Julie

    Would that Catholic women took their faith so seriously! It’s rare to encounter a young Catholic woman who even ponders such things as dressing modestly and living chastely.

  • pagansister

    Great article with a positive spin for once on those of the Muslim faith.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Good for her. I admire how Muslims take their faith seriously. We rationalize all sorts of comprimises, including myself. We could learn from them.

  • Rudy

    I was in Indonesia, a country 90% Muslim, back in April this year and saw real soccer hooligans fight each other with sticks and stones in the middle of a very busy highway. We were in caught in traffic from Jakarta to Lippo Village just a few miles away for three hours because the hooligans were blocking the roads and throwing rocks at anything passing by. So much for soccer hooliganism giving young Muslims an avenue for violent energy. The same week I was down there explosives were found planted near a Catholic Church that would have killed thousands if not discovered in time. The suspects were caught, all were Muslim extremists.

  • Richard Johnson

    Rudy, how about I match your post. A few simple names:

    - John Salvi
    - Eric Rudolph
    - James Kopp
    - David Gunn
    - Donald Spitz

    All terrorists…all Christians…all living in a nation that claims to be 90% Christian.

    Folks, this original post is about a young woman who clearly is faithful to her religion while becoming fully integrated into American culture. She is doing EXACTLY what conservatives say Muslims need to do in order to prove to the rest of us that they are not terrorists. She (and I assume her family) are involved in a local sport, from the looks of it on an all-girl team. She is modestly dressed, and likely comports herself with similar modesty.

    Yet some must ride their anti-Islamic hobby horse to every thread in these blogs, and are unable to even accept that the *vast* majority of Muslims in this nation abhor terrorism and violence, and just want to live in and enjoy their communities.

    So folks, if Serene must answer for the terrorists who claim the name of her faith, how about y’all answer for terrorists who claim the name of yours. Greta? Rudy? What say ye? Do you play the Pharisee and strain gnats for others while allowing your own camels to pass unhindered? Are your hobby horses that valuable?

    Hats off to Serene and her family!

  • Peter

    This young woman seems very nice and her team mates very accomodating, based on what’s presented in the article, but don’t forget that women in Islam dress that way as a symbol of their inferiority to men, not simply as a manifestation of “modesty”. Islam holds that women are inferior to men in terms of intelligence (for example the testimony of a man is equal to that of two women) and religious practice (the Koran is filled with “evidence” of women as a blight upon men, due to their ability to corrupt men by causing them to have lustfull thoughts; hence women must cover themselves lest they lead a man astray). Further, the “decision” to dress the way this young women is dressed is seldom a result of a real choice, as we would understand it, but rather is culturally imposed by group or familial pressure, and sadly, sometimes via violence. What seems like a “good news” story may not be one in actuality.

  • Richard Johnson

    Peter, have you truly studied the Koran, or are you simply posting what other’s of your view say about it? Would you accept similar critical posts about the Bible’s teachings on women if they came from non-Christians who had not bothered to actually study the cultural and theological context of the work?

    Yes, there are some Islamic cultures where women are treated in an inferior manner. There are also some Christian communities where they are treated similarly (Quiverfull, for example).

    I find it surprising that those who so often complain about anti-Christian or anti-Catholic bias in the media are so quick to bring a negative interpretation on any story regarding Islamic individuals.

    Did you ever stop to think that if her family really considered women to be inferior then they probably would not allow her to play a sport like soccer with non-Muslims?

  • Greta

    Richard Johnson. First of all, not sure anyone is saying Sarene has to answer for anything. I think it is great and a good story. The point I was making is it shows how great our country is based on the founding principles of protecting relgion from government and freedom to excercise those beliefs versus Muslim countries.

    You list the names of people who shot abortion doctors. That is not a teaching of the Church in any way and has been condemned by all the major Christian Churches. There is no Bishop, Priest, Cardinal, or Pope who has advocated that anyone should take violent action to kill anyone, including abortion doctors. No Christian Church teaches that killing one for any reason will bring reward in heave. No Christian Church teaches that those who do not accept Christianity are to be killed if they do not submit. No Christian Church advocates the terrorist attacks on innocent people in the name of God. In fact, the leadership has come out strongly against any of this. I resent this type of attack when you have to know that this is the facts and the truth.

    And before you say that saying anything against the killing of babies needs to be silenced so as not to give these folks cover, being silent in the face of this current holocaust is the same as remaining silent in Germany during that holocaust for which the Church is often taken to task for not speaking out more or doing more. Sorry, but this was a very bad example and one that I resent because it insinuates that I am pro killing of abortion docs. Wanting to shut down abortion mills by peaceful means is our tradition and heritage that goes back to the desire to shutting down anything that is evil such as slavery or the denial for civil rights, to long term other moral issues supported by the democratic party.

  • Richard Johnson

    Greta: “First of all, not sure anyone is saying Sarene has to answer for anything. I think it is great and a good story.”

    Then why even drag into the thread the other comments? What does this young lady playing soccer have to do with the rulings of Justice Hugo Black or what is happening in Muslim countries? The tone of your post seems to suggest that you would support our nation becoming more like those we hate by treating Muslims here like Christians are being treated over there. Is that your point?

    Greta: “No Christian Church teaches that killing one for any reason will bring reward in heave. No Christian Church teaches that those who do not accept Christianity are to be killed if they do not submit.”

    Indeed, there are Christians who teach that those who put up the “ultimate resistance” in the pro-life battle will be rewarded for their actions. The Army of God and several other extremist groups make this claim in their materials. They, like the Islamic extremists, are a small in number and occupy the extremist fringe of their faith. But, just like the terrorists on 9/11 claimed to be Muslim, these abortion terrorists claim to be Christian.

    You correctly point out the fact that the vast majority of Christians teach that murder, even in the defense of the unborn, is immoral, sinful, and never acceptable. You correctly point out that no Catholic leader, and no reputable leader in the larger Christian community, has endorsed murder to protect the unborn.

    Why is it that you refuse to accept that, in the same way, Muslims here in the US and their leaders have, in similarly large numbers, condemned those who commit murder in the name of their faith? What is it about you and your faith that insists that each and every story about Muslim believers simply MUST mention terrorism?

    Again…why is your hobby horse so valuable?

  • Peter

    Richard, what I stated is straight from the Koran and the Hadiths, so in answer to your question, yes, I have read the Koran. You can do so as well. There are excellent English translations available on the internet. I promise you, it’s an eye opener.

  • Richard Johnson

    The LORD then gave these further instructions to Moses: ‘Tell the people of Israel to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you forever. It helps you to remember that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.’ (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)

    If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

    But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

    They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

    Peter, I have read the Bible, and these clear commandments tell those who believe the Bible to kill unbelievers, followers of other gods, and non-virginal brides.

    Now, if you are faithful you will follow these commands, right?

    Proper study of the Bible, like proper study of ANY Holy Writing, involves more than just reading the book, Peter. It’s really easy to cherry pick passages and cast the whole in the worst possible light. Based on these passages someone who does not understand the whole context of the Bible could say that believers must kill non-believers, the same accusation you have made against Muslims based on a similar faulty reading of the Koran.

    No doubt you would reject such a notion based on an obviously slanted reading of the Bible, as would I. One must spend time with the Bible, spend time studying, and in the case of Catholics spend time learning the teachings of the Church.

    Yet you grasp some passages out of context from the Koran and attempt to label the whole faith based on these passages and the actions of the most extreme members of the faith. Why? Why do you believe such a gloss treatment of Islam is right and proper? Is such a similar careless treatment of Christianity also proper?

  • Richard Johnson

    Oh, and lest we forget…by this passage the Bible clearly condones weapons of mass destruction (terrorism?).

    Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

    Peter, do you see how easy it is to take snippets of a book and extrapolate it to mean anything? It ignores the whole of the book for the sake of a nonsensical interpretation of a snippet. Some atheists use this trick to try to condemn Christianity, yet we see through their actions because we have taken time to study the whole of the Bible.

    Have you given similar treatment to the Koran, or are you adopting the atheists’ tricks for your own purposes?

  • Rudy

    Peter: I will think of you every September 11.

  • Rudy

    Actually the com above is for Richard not Peter. Sorry and regards.

  • Richard Johnson

    Thank you, Rudy. I will think of you every April 19. :-)


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