Oct. 22, 2010
Two-time All-American senior Mel Lawrence and the rest of the Huskies that were a part of the 2008 NCAA Championship team missed out on the usual White House trip that has historically gone hand-in-hand with winning an NCAA title. Many title teams from 2008-09 were left off the trip, including UW's softball team. The White House once again invited all 2009-10 champions this year, so as a concession, the UW cross country and softball squads were granted front row seats when President Obama came out in Husky Stadium on Thursday. Lawrence recaps the experience...
Back in 2008 after winning the National Championship, our Husky women weren't able to take the trip to visit the White House like other NCAA National Championship teams. After two years of waiting, we finally got our chance. The President, Barack Obama, was visiting the University of Washington campus with the Patty Murray campaign. We received word that (Associate Athletic Director) John Morris, with the help of Christine Babcock, had been able to get us a chance to meet face to face with the President. It was definitely a morning most students my age would dream about. It's not often you get the opportunity to shake hands with the President of the United States.
The morning began with the girl's team meeting John Morris in the Graves Annex building. There was a lot of excitement buzzing between our girls about what the experience would be like. Security arrived promptly at 9:30 a.m. We were all informed of the seriousness of passing security and told we had to stay in a single file line or else we would be apprehended and not allowed to enter Husky Stadium. Excitement turned to nervousness as none of us wanted that to happen.
From the Graves Annex we were taken, single file, into the Hec Ed Pavilion where our belongings were searched by guard dogs and we were sent through metal detectors. Once we passed through security, we were allowed to walk through the tunnel into Husky Stadium. We were instructed to stay in a gated area until the President arrived.
After an hour and a half in the cold, the secret service came out of the tunnel at 11:30a.m., and we felt the excitement beginning to build. A few moments later, President Barack Obama walked into Husky Stadium smiling and waving. We were so excited! We couldn't believe that the President of the United States was standing within feet of us. A short speech of thank you to supporters later, he was walking down the gate shaking our hands. We handed him a University of Washington Cross Country tee-shirt, and he held it up proudly.
As much fun as it would be to visit the White House, I think the girls thought this experience was way better. The President being at the University of Washington was a once in a lifetime experience. Instead of us going to him, he came to us and we got to present him with his very own cross country shirt! We heard he's quite the runner and it is my goal to see him in the next "People" magazine jogging with his new shirt on.
-- Mel Lawrence