In her 17 years, Kristen Raeon has accomplished more than a lot of people her age.
As a forward for the Jordan-Elbridge girls' soccer team, Kristen scored 100 goals over four seasons, becoming the school's all-time leading scorer. She made the Central Region team in the Empire State Games, the All--Section Three Team, and was Channel 5's Athlete of the Week.
In the middle of her junior year, Kristen decided to follow in the footsteps of her brothers Matt and Mitch and enlist in the Army. Mitch is currently on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, and Matt is leaving for Iraq in December.
After making her decision, Kristen said met with J-E girls' soccer coach Al Maxian, for whom she has played in every season since she was in eighth grade. She explained that she wanted to return to the team for her senior year, but would not be returning from basic training in Fort Jackson, S.C. until two weeks after the season's first practices and scrimmages had started.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association requires eight practices for women's soccer prior to the season for a student to be eligible. According to Kristen, Coach Maxian declined her request. He said it would not be fair to the other girls, and stressed the value of soccer being a team sport.
Kristen then tried to re-schedule her Regents exam for an earlier date so she could leave for basic training before her scheduled departure date in March. J-E Principal David Zehner offered to make arrangements for her to take the Regents test in South Carolina, where she was stationed. This time the Army refused to pull her out of her daily routine to take the test.
In March, with the consent of parents, Randy Raeon and Becky Martin, Kristen left home for basic training.