Former Mountaineer soccer player Kate Molinari is kicking it around these days with politiciansliterally.

Her new teammateswho just happen to be all menare British ministers, members of Parliament and researchers.

Its all in a days work for the WVU senior from Parkersburg who is currently wrapping up an internship with a member of Parliament and playing on the governing bodys football team.

I am really interested in policy-making, and Ive always wanted to go and live abroad,said Molinari, who is majoring in political science and French in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.This was the perfect opportunity to do both.

She began her internship with Christine Russell, MP for the city of Chester, in October when the House of Commons convened. It continues through July, when the session ends, for 10 months total.

For Molinari, one perk of the job has been rubbing elbows with famous British politicians.

Strangely enough, theyre all over the place, and Ive passed just about every one but (Prime Minister) Tony Blair at one point or another,she said.

Fun daysfor Molinari consist of taking constituents on tours of Westminster, helping them obtain tickets to Prime Ministers Question Time and having lunch with Russell.

Showing people the ins and outs of Westminster is the glamorous part of the job,she said.However, my main responsibility is to sort things out for Chris.

That means handling office logisticssorting e-mail, overseeing Russells calendar and writing letters to constituents.

The internship has really opened my eyes to the world of politics,she said.Politics can mean a variety of things, and there is a spectrum of roles to fill within the political system. Since Ive been here, Ive been able to see the different roles people play and how everything comes together.

Even with her numerous responsibilities around the office, Molinari, an avid athlete, said theres always time for a game of football.

Ive been fortunate to have met several national heroes through playing soccer, or football if you are using the local terminology,she said.Someone let it leak that I used to play for the WVU womens team, and I was recruited into the Parliamentary Football Club. Right now, Im the only girl on it, which is a drama in and of itself, but its also helped me gain a bit of a profile.

The team competes in games to help promote charitable causes. One of her more memorable games was playing at Stamford Bridge in May against the Cystic Fibrosis Celebrity XIa team of ex-football players, television personalities, comedians and other local celebritiesto raise awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

During her down time, Molinari also enjoys exploring British culture.

The U.S. and the UK may speak the same language, but we definitely do not have the same culture,she said.Lately, its been a pretty great atmosphere in general because of the World Cup. English fans are crazy. They really bring a lot to a game that I am already pretty enthusiastic about.

Of the places shes visitedwhich include Brighton, Manchester, Chester and Walesher favorite spot has been Borough Market in London. She goes there on Saturdays, plays football in the park and enjoys visiting a pub called The Black Sheep.

In summing up her internship, she said working in Parliament, being the only woman on a football team in a country where the sport is considered a boysgame, traveling across the Atlantic and living in a city with 13 million people have been the best parts of the experience.

I have experienced and learned so much, and I cant describe all the different ways that Ive grown as a person because of this experience,Molinari said.Its the personal growth, overcoming the challenges, sticking with itthats the best part.

She plans to visit Scotland and Ireland before returning to the United States in August.

* WVU parliamentary internship anextraordinary experience*

Molinari is the sixth WVU student to intern in the House of Commons.

A number of former interns have returned to London to work, noted Steve Zdatny, professor of history who coordinates WVU s parliamentary internship. Justin Dunleavy, a 2004 graduate, was hired by Russell as an office manager.

She (Russell) was returned by a slim majority, so its very possible our students made a small but critical difference,Zdatny said.

WVU students who participate in the internship come from a variety of academic disciplines, including history, political science and psychology. Besides receiving hands-on experience, they receive a stipend of $8,000 through the Eberly College in addition to 850 pounds, or approximately $1,000, a month from Parliament.

Where else are you going to find an internship that pays $18,000,Zdatny said.I bet we have the best paid interns in the House of Commons.

And they do fabulous things,he added.Theyve been on Downing Street with the prime minister. They were there when the bell rang for a vote. I think any travel abroad is beneficial, and the opportunity to live and work in London for a year is an extraordinary opportunity. The interns who go over there develop a close relationship with Mrs. Russell in a way they never would with a U.S. congressman. They get to do things and get to know the inner workings of the parliamentary system.

Zdatny continued,Aside from the intrinsic value of the experience, if youre going to do anything that requires letters of recommendation, a letter of recommendation on House of Commons letterhead is quite valuable. Yale and Harvard have the program, but big state universities dont have this program, and it is absolutely fabulous.

For more information about parliamentary internship opportunities, contact Zdatny at 304-293-2421 ext. 5243 or steve.zdatny@mail.wvu.edu .