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Huntington High student gains acceptance to West Point

Mar. 09, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Kelsie Burns simply wanted to continue her soccer career at the collegiate level.

So when she received an email in 2011 from the coach at West Point, she didn't realize it was a military academy until her father informed her. But it intrigued her enough to make a visit in October 2011, which was all the evidence she needed to pursue that path.

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall and Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin all nominated her for an appointment, which was recently confirmed for the Huntington High School senior. She will head to West Point this summer for basic training, get to play on the soccer team and it will all be paid for.

"It was very intimidating (to visit) and it still is," Burns said. "But I knew I wouldn't get a better opportunity."

During the three visits she has made, including a summer camp last year, she has seen how physically and mentally challenging it will be. But she said that served as motivation to want to go.

"I am really competitive and determined," Burns said, whose grandfather served in World War II.

The daughter of Cathy and Dale Burns, she has a 4.03 grade point average and has played soccer for Huntington High for four years and on a traveling team since she was 9. She also is involved in student council, Spanish Honorary and Mu Alpha Theta.

She expressed some sadness about her high school career coming to an end, but Burns also is excited for the journey ahead.

"It's not like other schools," she said, recalling what see saw on her first visit. "It was the first time I saw a group of people blended by their surroundings and goals. It was the first time I saw unity."

Rahall said in a news release that it is a great honor to be appointed to one of the nation's four service academies.

"The education and leadership skills they gain not only develops fine officers to lead our armed forces, it shapes their civic and personal character for a lifetime," Rahall said. "Kelsie has excelled academically and athletically, and is actively involved in her school and community. I join her family members and many friends in being exceedingly proud that she has received this appointment to West Point, and wish her great success as a cadet and as a future Army officer."

Her parents expressed great pride in the path their daughter has chosen and feel confident she will succeed.

"She responds well to challenges and has a very competitive personality," Cathy Burns said. "When we dropped her off there for her first visit ... we said she is either going to hate it or love it. When we picked her up, she came walking out of there saying, 'I can do this.'

"It's definitely the right path for her."