A few months ago, the sight of Katie Miller ’12 walking down the streets of West Point, N.Y., would have been normal. On Sunday, though, that exact situation was enough to elicit swears from people driving by.
“Go back to Yale!” Miller said one driver yelled at her.
In the span of less than two months, Miller has gone from Army cadet to a Yale student who captured headlines this August after her public disavowal of West Point because of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which forbids openly gay citizens from servingin the armed forces.
Even before leaving for the Army game, members of the Yale team admitted to having concerns about the upcoming trip.
“Before the game,there was a concern about how this game was going to go — whether it would be just rugby or other factors,” rugby president Alex Hess ’12 said. “We are the ‘Gay Ivy,’ they are Army; you can draw your own conclusions from that.”
Sunday’s Yale-Army rugby match should have been a predictable endeavor.
Yale, an unranked squad, took on Army, a team that had never lost to Yale in recent memory and was ranked third in the nation.
Captain Martine Powers ’11 said Yale played with a marked improvement in aggression over prior years, but ultimately the odds prevailed. Yale fell to Army 89–0. (Powers is the News’ former Associate Managing Editor for Online.)
Yet the game had an added significance becauseit was the first time that Miller had played against her former rugby teammates.
In one sense, Miller’s return was a chance to see old friends.
“I’m still close with those girls,” Miller said of the Army players. “They have always been very supportive.”
On another level, the situation was much more dramatic. Miller said that members of the Army team told her that core cadets went up to Army’s rugby players before the game and said, “You better take Katie Miller out.”
“The cadets are particularly generally more conservative,” Miller said. “In a political sense they’re tougher at me.”
Miller anticipated a hostile reception on the field, but she said those attending and playing the game were respectful.
Powers said one must make a distinction between Army as an institution and the rugby team at Army.
“Rugby players, in general, are a good bunch of people,” Powers said. “We’ve never come across rugby players who aren’t good natured and friendly.” She said West Point is no exception to this rule, and that its players have always been nice to Yale.
The environment Miller faced at Army on Sunday isin marked contrast to her life at Yale, which Miller said is very well receptive of gays and lesbians.
Miller said she balances her time between three classes, including George Chauncey’s “U.S. Lesbian and Gay History,” attending activist events, handling the media,and playing rugby.
“A lot of people at Yale have something funny or interesting about them,” captain Sophia Shapiro ’11 said. “I think a lot of people respect what she’s doing and think it’s really important. But in terms of the team dynamic she is a friend of ours who happens to be doing an incredible thing.”
Miller said Army’s victory on Sunday does make her miss some aspects of West Point. She said rugby at Army was a “matter of business” with the ultimate goal of a national championship. And while the program at Yale and other colleges involves socializing after the game, at West Point there was no socializing afterwards.
Miller said, however, that this strictness led to a very tight-knit team.
“I have a feeling of ambivalence,” Miller said. “I have a strong allegiance to Army and West Point. But at the same time I make an effort not to be cynical of an institution because they haven’t been respectful.”
Miller said she still receives hate mail via Facebook, but she anticipated a strong reaction.
“That was my intent,” Miller said. “I went to the media. I was going to leave no matter what, but I wanted to make a difference.”
The women’s rugby team will travel to Hanover, N.H., to face Dartmouth on Saturday.