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Champion Aggies visit Obama

Published: Friday, October 7, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07

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Matt Woolbright — Special to THE BATTALION

Coach Gary Blair gives the president an A&M jersey on Thursday.

WASHINGTON — The 2011 Texas A&M women's basketball team was in the nation's capital Thursday to celebrate its national championship one more time — this time with President Barack Obama at the White House.

Flanked to the right and left by A&M players and coaches, Obama welcomed the Aggie crowd on the White House lawn with a loud "Howdy." He then referred to A&M's history as an all-male school until the 1960s as extra reason to praise the team's accomplishment.

"Now, winning a national title is a pretty big deal for anybody. And it's an even bigger deal when you think about just how far this team has come," Obama said.

The president went on to acknowledge Danielle Adams for scoring 30 points against Notre Dame in the National Championship game; Sydney Colson for her aggressive offense; Sydney Carter for her tenacious defense; and Tyra White, the "Silent Assassin," for her clutch shooting.

"Not too many people get called out by Obama, but if he says it, then OK," White said of the president's remarks about her "Silent Assassin" nickname.

Obama also praised the Aggie players for their efforts off the court and their status as role models for girls and young women across the country, including the first daughters, Malia and Sasha.

"They visit schools to tell kids about the importance of hard work, because they understand that a good jump shot doesn't mean much if you can't get it done in the classroom," Obama said. "So congratulations again. Thank you for the example that you set on and off the court. We are so proud of you."

During the ceremony, head women's basketball coach Gary Blair gave the president a white A&M jersey, No. 12 with Obama on the back.

"We'd just like to thank you," Blair said to Obama. "It's an honor for us at Texas A&M to be here."

The team brought a second jersey — No. 1 — for first lady Michelle Obama.

"Well, yes, that's — I think that's about right," said the president, laughing, about the choice of numbers. "I am 12th."

During the team's visit, College Station Rep. Bill Flores, Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey  Hutchison led the team on a tour of the Capitol. The Aggies also took time to give pointers to youth in a basketball clinic at the White House, and attended a dinner honoring the team Thursday evening.

"It's been completely unbelievable, a once in a lifetime experience," White said.

Athletic Director Bill Byrne, University President R. Bowen Loftin and System Chancellor John Sharp accompanied the team during the Washington visit.  

"These women are very special people," Loftin said. "This was a reward to them, a recognition that they really deserved and earned."

Before bidding the Aggies farewell at the White House, the president invited the players to return for a second visit, if they can earn it again.

"Hopefully we'll get a chance to see you back soon," Obama said. "And as they say at A&M: ‘Gig ‘em!'"

Correction: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison led the A&M women's basketball team on a tour of the Capitol. The Battalion incorrectly omitted Hutchison in the Sept. 7 print article.

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