Obama honors championship college teams, athletes
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday lauded hundreds of student athletes who play sports as varied as lacrosse, gymnastics and fencing for their championship performances on and off the field.
Some 650 students, along with their coaches and staff, gathered on the South Lawn of the White House as Obama continued a tradition begun by George W. Bush. “This is the most athletic talent we've ever had on the South Lawn,” he said.
Obama applauded the players, who had traded their team uniforms for business suits and sundresses, for focusing on the triple combination of sports, academics and service — and for winning NCAA trophies.
He noted that one team cooks dinner for families with seriously ill children and that another team holds an annual track meet for kids with physical and mental disabilities. Teams also have organized blood drives, built houses, cleaned beaches and reached out to senior citizens, he said.
“One young man even donated bone marrow to a little girl he had never met,” Obama said. “And as he said, ‘Saving someone's life is a lot more important than a football game.’”
Said Obama: “It's the kind of selfless attitude that's going to stay with you for the rest of your lives and that's incredibly important.”
Obama said all the athletes have a competitive streak “about a mile wide” and he noted that they excelled at sports even while carrying full course loads and giving back to their communities.
To the Fairleigh Dickinson University's women's bowling team, Obama joked, “I need some tips, guys!”