A double dose of congratulations were doled out on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Monday, as President Obama met with the women's and men's UConn teams.
Both having won the 2014 national title in their sports, it made sense to book the trip at the same time. For women's coach Geno Auriemma it was his ninth trip to the White House. Kevin Ollie was taking his second jaunt down to D.C. for this kind of ceremony. Ollie played 13 years in the NBA but never won a title, but he was an assistant on the 2011 UConn team that snipped the final nets.
"In a championship game billed as one of the biggest in women's basketball history, the Huskies routed the previously unbeaten Notre Dame -- and gave me bragging rights -- it gave me bragging rights to pick them in my bracket," Obama said. "This was not hard. (Laughter.) I mean, me and 95 percent of the country. And this marked the 5th time that UConn has finished a season as undefeated national champion."
Of Ollie, Obama said:
"He's always confident and calm and collected. In fact, a sportswriter once referred to him as “our future President.” (Laughter.) I don't know with a name like 'Kevin' whether that's possible. (Laughter and applause.) But who knows, anything could happen. ...
Coach Ollie and Coach Auriemma spoke at the Pentagon last month as part of our Hoops for Troops program. And last year, after the tragedy in Newtown, the men put on a clinic for kids at a local rec center -- and they asked the media to keep it under wraps so the kids could just have a good time.
We know all the pro sports teams get the opportunity for the meet-and-greet with the President, but imagine being a 19- or 20-year-old college student? It's a huge perk after the thrill and hell of enduring a season on the way to a title.
"He doesn't present himself as somebody more powerful than you," Napier told the New Haven Register. "He's definitely well-respected. He doesn't want to 'wow' you with how powerful he is. He's just a well-respected guy, and someone that you respect because of the way he handles himself."