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Obama has Seattle Storm over to White House

President Barack Obama, fulfilling the number one presidential duty of congratulator-in-chief, had the WNBA champion Seattle Storm over to the White House this afternoon  for some high fives and kind words.

He introduced the coach, joked around with the players and talked about how he sweated his stint as a coach for daughter Sasha's team. “Nothing gets me more stressed,” he said.

(Not Afghanistan? Not Libya? Not the economy? Wow, those kids must be playing in a tough league.)

Joining the gathering were some other Washington state folks who hang out in the other Washington, former Governor/current Commerce Secretary/future Ambassador Gary Locke, Deputy HUD Secretary Ron Simms and Sen. Patty Murray. The Storm didn't make the trip just to have their picture taken in the Rose Garden; they held a basketball clinic for some inner city kids in D.C.

The White House was kind enough to send out a full transcript of the event. You can read it inside the blog.


REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

WELCOMING 2010 WNBA CHAMPION SEATTLE STORM

TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Rose Garden

2:07 P.M. EDT 

     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  Everybody, please have a seat.  We arranged for a gorgeous day here.  Give it up for the 2010 WNBA Champions, the Seattle Storm.  (Applause.)  Congratulations, Coach, on winning a second title.

We’ve got some big fans in the house today.  The former governor of Washington State, current Commerce Secretary, soon to be ambassador to China — that's all one person — Gary Locke is here with his beautiful wife.  (Applause.)  Secretary of Health and Human Services and former college basketball star, Kathleen Sebelius is in the house.  (Applause.)  The wonderful senator from Washington State, Patty Murray is here.  (Applause.)  There she is.  And the former county executive out in Seattle, who is now Deputy Secretary at HUD, Ron Sims is in the house.  (Applause.)

 A few weeks ago, WNBA tipped off its 15th season.  And in that time it has become the most successful women’s professional sports league in the world.  Attendance is up, ratings are up. Basketball is now the most popular sport for girls in the nation. That's worth applauding.  (Applause.)  To WNBA president Laurel Richie and everyone who else make — everybody else who makes this sport possible, congratulations.  We are very, very proud.

 Today, though, is about the Storm.  Three years ago, when this team’s future in Seattle was uncertain, four season ticket holders joined forces to become co-owners.  Now they’re also the first all-female ownership group in American history to win a championship.  Owners, wave your hands.  (Applause.)

 Congratulations to Coach Brian — three winning seasons in a row, 2010 Coach of the Year, championship ring.  Not bad.  And he had a special team to coach.  They tied the record for the most regular-season wins, went undefeated at home, became the first team in WNBA history to go a perfect 7-0 in the playoffs on the way to the title.

 And this was no fluke.  It was the result of true teamwork and unselfish play.  When you meet these women, you can’t help but be struck by their humility.  You ask them how they'd describe a champion, and they say things like “somebody that makes the people around them better.”

 There’s guard Tanisha Wright, who, when asked that same question, said: “Tanisha Wright.”  (Laughter.)   But the rest are humble.  (Laughter.) 

Lauren Jackson, who couldn’t be here today but was there every time she was needed last year, picked up her third WNBA MVP award and her first Finals MVP award.  Forward Camille Little iced the championship game by draining two clutch free throws with six seconds left.  Swin Cash and Sue Bird, they're no strangers to the White House — both know something about perfection from their time playing college ball at UCONN.

In fact, we can’t get rid of Swin.  (Laughter.)  I think she’s got a cot here somewhere.  She was here as part of the Detroit Shock championship team.  She volunteered to read to children at an Easter Egg Roll.  She helped out with our Father’s Day mentoring barbeque.  So, Swin, thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty.

 You see, the Storm family understands that being a champion doesn’t stop when you step off the court.  That’s why they’re playing their part in the life of Seattle communities by running healthy lifestyle programs for girls, and reading and mentoring in the schools.

 And today, they’re bringing that commitment here to the White House.  After we’re done, they’re going to hold a clinic for young people on the basketball court.  Young people, go ahead and wave.  (Applause.)  As part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and the WNBA Fit program.

 And I was telling Coach, as somebody who had an extraordinary time this year coaching a couple of games of Sasha’s, I can tell you nothing gets me more stressed — (laughter) — but also nothing gave me more satisfaction than seeing young girls get confidence and improve and learn how to be competitive and still good sports.  It is just wonderful.

 And since I’m usually surrounded by strong women in this house, seeing these young ladies behind us is a special pleasure. Because Michelle and I are always teach our girls to set their sights high for themselves, expectations high for themselves, and we tell them if they work hard and do right, there’s nothing they can’t achieve. 

 So as a father, I thank this team for reaffirming that sentiment, and for setting a good example for every young girl with big dreams.  And as a basketball fan, congratulations on a thrilling year, and good luck next year.  (Applause.)

 All right, we’re going to take a picture.  We going to move this out?  Thank you, guys.  Coach, you want to say anything?  He won all these —

      COACH AGLER:  Well, first of all, President Obama, thank you for having us.  It’s a special moment for us and our organization.  And we’ve got a special group here.  And Lauren Jackson is not here today, but we miss her.  She’s having surgery tomorrow, as a matter of fact.  So our wishes are with her, but we’ll continue on and be a strong team, and we’ll be competitive this year. 

 So thank you so much. 

      THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)


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Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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