As the mother of three middle-school students who have all participated on various athletic teams in Department of Defense Education Activity schools, I am writing with a suggestion — "Keep one eye on the middle."

This past school year, I have watched many talented young athletes, from Belgium to Germany, go unrecognized because of DODEA’s rules regarding sports.

I understand that high-school athletes need to have their "moment in the sun," and that the eight-semester rule [for high-school-level participation in sports] has its place.

I also understand that, as "exhibition" athletes, middle-school students are getting good, competitive experiences.

However, when a middle-school athlete is among the top five finishers in a cross country meet or a track and field event, I find it a little mystifying that these athletes cannot be "counted" or even be recognized by Stars and Stripes.

The reason I use the word "counted" is because all three of my children have been told by more than one coach that "middle-school students don’t count."

Perhaps Stars and Stripes could do a weekly feature on those outstanding middle-school athletes who have shown they possess a talent in their chosen sport. In track and field or cross country, for instance, the times are already recorded by the computers, just not released to the press.

This could be similar to your "Athlete of the Week," but be titled something like "One Eye on the Middle." It could be a way to recognize that up-and-coming talent in DODEA schools without taking anything away from the outstanding high-school athletes.

My thought is that it could be a win-win situation in which talent all across DODEA schools is acknowledged and recognized. Who knows what future Olympians are among our fine, young student athletes here in Europe?

Maj. Sandra M. Elliott (retired)Hohenfels, Germany

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