|President Obama shakes hands with NCAA Champions at the White House on Monday. Photo/CD Brown.|
The occasion marks the continuing effort President Obama began of sports champions being commended for service, as part of a White House visit.
With over 600 student-athletes and over 100 coaches convening on the South Lawn of the White House, the president said, "I know that one team cooks dinner for the families of children suffering from serious illnesses. Another holds a track meet every year for more than 300 students with physical and mental disabilities. Together, you guys have organized blood drives, built houses, cleaned up beaches and reached out to senior citizens. One young man even donated bone marrow to a little girl he had never met."
After remarks by the president the students (who waited almost two hours to hear) were treated to a meet-and-greet (of sorts) on the South Lawn where the president shook hands with several students.
"It was just unreal", said Scott Wingo, in-fielder named to the University of South Carolina's 2010 SEC All-Defensive Team for the Gamecocks. "It was a once in a life time opportunity right there, and I had a great time."
Richard Royal, catcher for the Gamecocks said of his experience, "It was awesome. Not many people get to walk on the grounds of the White House, let alone get the chance to shake the president's hand."
Royal's sister, who who works in the D.C. metro area, hasn't been to the White House. Said Royal, "I think I got a one-up on her being able to go on the White House grounds."
The White House tradition of honoring the NCAA student champion athletes began with President George W. Bush.
Yesterday's event brought out the South Carolina's alumni who camped outside the White House for a glimpse of their school's champions who defeated UCLA 2-1.
"I cried when they won the College World Series, so to see them here is outstanding", said Kelly King, who graduated in 2007.
It's the second National Championship for the school who made history when they won the very last game of the series at the former Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium.
|TCU's rifle squad show off championship boots. Photo/CD Brown.|
"I think they might be able to give Secret Service a run for their money", the president said.
NCAA Champions from our area included the University of Virginia Men’s Soccer, the University of Virginia Women’s Rowing, and the University of Maryland, College Park Women's Lacrosse Team.
Representing from the president's home state of Chicago was the University of Illinois' Men's Wheelchair Basketball Champions. The team finished with a record of 30-1.
"It was a tremendous opportunity to recognize all the student-athletes for their accomplishments, for us in particular", said the team's coach Mike Frogley. It was the first time the White House recognized wheelchair basketball.
Obama Addresses NCAA Champions.
The Gamecocks football team is coached by former Redskins coach, Steve Spurrier who coached the team in the 2002-2003 season.