The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 24, 2002

President Bush Congratulates 11 NCAA Championship Teams
Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with NCAA Spring Champions
The East Room

President's Remarks

2:39 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Welcome. Please, be seated; thank you. This is Champions Day here at the White House, and I want to welcome all the champs who are here. I particularly love being around those who've set high goals, worked hard to achieve them and win.

I want to thank the chancellors, presidents, athletic directors, supporters, family members for being here, as well. I'm honored to welcome people of high accomplishment to the White House. You're here during extraordinary times. This is a time of challenge for our country. It's really a time to determine the fiber of our nation, the character of our people. We're being tested. But because we're Americans, because we believe things hold values deeply in our heart, we will succeed -- there's no question in my mind.

And one way we're going to succeed is for all of us -- particularly the champs here -- to remember there is a responsibility that comes with being a champion. I happen to believe you have a responsibility to set an example for others; that as you succeed on the field of play, you've got to remember there are youngsters looking at you, trying to determine how they should live their life. So as you set high standards for yourself, I hope you remember people are watching and that you can affect people's lives in an incredibly positive way.

There's another way you can serve your community, as well, by loving a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself; that a champion on the field can be a champion off the field by mentoring a child or caring for somebody in need or helping to eliminate pockets of despair and hopelessness in the country. You've got an opportunity as champions to be champions off the field in the community in which you live. And there's no question in my mind that when you put your mind to it, you can. You can help shape the character of the country. You can overcome -- help overcome evil by doing some good in the communities in which you live.

So I want to welcome you all here. I want to welcome two members of the United States Congress -- Jim Walsh and Joe Wilson -- Jim from New York, and Joe from South Carolina.

I appreciate all the team captains who are up here. And it's now my honor to kind of go through the roster of the champs, those who have earned the title of NCAA Champion and, therefore, get to come to this fabulous place. (Laughter.) My temporary home.

First, out of the state of California, the softball champs, NCAA Softball champs from the University of California, coached by Diane Ninemire. These girls beat a tough field. They got a one-hitter from Jocelyn Forrest to win the championship. It's my honor to welcome the Golden Bears of California, here to the White House. (Applause.)

Next, men's lacrosse. This year was dominated by Syracuse -- I say "dominated" -- they won the last four games by one goal, but they were 15 and 2 -- (laughter.) They were 15 and 2. They've won their eighth National Championship. They are coached by John Desko. A fine group of people from Syracuse. Congratulations, and welcome to the White House. (Applause.)

And then the best women's lacrosse team in the history of Princeton University is with us. At least, that's how they were rated by those who know something about women's lacrosse. Their coach is Chris Sailer; Gary Walters, the athletic director. These ladies scored the most points and the most goals in Princeton history. I know the Syracuse men beat Princeton; it's lucky you didn't play the women this year. (Laughter.) Anyway, it's my honor to welcome the Princeton Tigers, NCAA champs here. (Applause.)

(A T-shirt was presented to the President.) (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Tennis team. (Laughter.) The University of Southern California Trojans have been coached by a man named Dick Leach for 23 years. And under his leadership, they've won four NCAA champions, they've won 16 in their school's history.

It is my honor to welcome Coach Leach, the University of Southern California Trojan champions, along with new coach Peter Smith and Athletic Director Mike Garrett. Welcome to the White House. (Applause.)

(A T-shirt was presented to the President.) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Stanford University. They win a lot of things, and this year the women's tennis team is here at the White House because they won the NCAA champions. They're coached by Lele Forood. They have been here a lot. They were here two years in a row. This is their second year in a row. They have won the national championship 12 times in 22 years. It is my honor to welcome a group of ladies from a school that has had an unbelievable tradition of winning NCAA championships, and that is the Stanford women's tennis team. Welcome. (Applause.)

Men's golf. The University of Minnesota won its first NCAA men's golf championship this year. Incredibly enough, it was the only team in the tournament to finish below par. That's a hard course.

I want to thank Brad James, the head coach, and Joel Maturi, who is the athletic director, for coming. And congratulations to the Golden Gophers Golf Team of Minnesota. (Applause.) Guy must think I play golf a lot around here. (Laughter.)

And the women's golf team of Duke University is the NCAA champs, coached by Dan Brooks. This is their second national title. Joel Aleva is here as well, who is the athletic director. Dan Brooks must be a great coach -- looks like a pretty young guy to me, and he's already in the National Golf Coaches' Association Hall of Fame.

Congratulations, Duke, congratulations for a victory. These girls told me they're going to be back next year. I look forward to seeing them again. (Applause.)

LS&U, right across the border from where I used to live. I want to welcome the mens outdoor track and field team and the women's indoor track and field team. If you ever follow college track, you know that LSU has been dominate, to say the least. And once again, they have been dominate. This is the 23rd championship under Coach Pat Henry's leadership. And I want to welcome first the mens outdoor track team. Welcome to the White House, and congratulations for a great victory. (Applause.)

And the women's indoor track team routed the field this year. Their closest competitor was 14 points. Welcome to the LSU Tigers women's track team. Congratulations. (Applause.)

The University of South Carolina had never won an NCAA championship until this year, when the women's outdoor track and field team beat a tough field. It's my honor to welcome Andrew Sorenson, who is the President of the university, Mike McGee, the athletic director, Coach Curtis Frye and the women from the University of South Carolina. It's a great tribute to your skill and talent. It's a great honor for you to have won your university's first NCAA championship. Welcome to the White House. (Applause.)

And finally -- (laughter) -- the mighty Longhorns of the University of Texas. There were a lot of people here in the White House that were sweating out the NCAA final in college baseball this year. I'm probably going to rewrite a little history here, but I was the governor when Augie Garrido first came to the University of Texas. And as I recall it, he said, I'm going to win a national championship for Texas. He just didn't tell me he was going to win the national championship when I was going to be the President. (Laughter.) He forgot the second part.

But we're really proud of the University of Texas. We're proud of Coach Garrido. We're proud of the -- we're proud of all the Texans here that work here in Washington, D.C. are proud to be able to "hook the horns." Congratulations. (Applause.)

So that concludes Championship Day here at the White House. We hope to see you all here next year. In the meantime, I want you to remember that you're a citizen of the greatest country on the face of the earth. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless America. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

END 2:50 P.M. EDT

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