Serene Kergaye takes her faith very seriously. In a unique report from Deseret News, we learn that the young high schooler is so devout that she wears a headscarf, long pants and long sleeves even when she's working up a sweat on the soccer field.
The Cottonwood High School (Murray, Utah) student is a Muslim who is intent on wearing her religious clothing in any and all scenarios. While some sports enthusiasts may do a double-take upon seeing the junior varsity girls soccer starter's outfit, by covering up, Kergaye is able to uphold her faith's modesty standards.
And in case there are any concerns, the clothing poses no problems when it comes to giving her an advantage -- something that is often considered in these situations (after all, it's unfair to allow someone to wear clothing or accessories that would give them increased abilities).
Kergaye acknowledges that her clothing is a bit unconventional, but she explains that it's a choice and that the clothing is actually quite comfortable. "It's really thin and loose. It's not that hot, I don't think," she says. "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."
The state allows for uniform rules to be flexible so that individuals, like Kergaye, can remain true to their faith while engaging in their sport of choice.
Bart Thompson, assistant director of the Utah High School Activities Association, explains this rationale: "(We want) to allow the individuals to maintain practices and still compete." He continues:
"The rules are written to promote fair, even competition for everybody. If you've got a situation that doesn't fundamentally alter the competition, you're going to be OK."
Kergaye hopes that her outfit will help people see that Islam isn't an extremist faith. "We don't sit in our basements all day and make bombs," she explains. "We play soccer, we play football."
Her dedication to her sport and her faith bring about great praise from her coach and her teammates, alike. Ali Bromley-Dulfano, who is on Kergaye's team, said, "Of all the girls on the team, Serene probably puts the most into her playing." The team's coach, Angela Hamilton, reiterates this message, saying, "She's just a very sweet person anyway, and the girls just…they love her."