1:52 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Everybody have a seat. Howdy!
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House. Congratulations to Texas A&M Aggies on your first national championship. (Applause.) Now, winning a national title is a pretty big deal for anybody. And it’s an even bigger deal when you think about just how far this team has come.
Fifty years ago, Texas A&M didn’t have any women -- much less a women’s basketball team. When they did finally put a team together, the story goes that players had to share uniforms. At one point, they had to use the men’s locker room, which probably wasn’t perfectly designed for your needs. Coach Blair here would be going door to door just to ask people to watch the games.
This is a team that used to be known as a bunch of “lovable losers.” But Coach Blair wasn’t going to settle for that. As he said, he came to College Station “to build champions.”
And that’s exactly what he’s done. Today, this team has thousands of fans cheering them in every game -- including some very proud members of Congress who are here today. They’ve defied expectations, they’ve won close games, and played with a whole lot of heart. And now the Aggies are the best team in women’s basketball. (Applause.)
I think the players would agree that a lot of credit goes to Coach Blair. He’s led his team to six consecutive tournament appearances, which is pretty impressive by itself. But he also tries to respond personally to every piece of fan mail he gets during the season. He throws candy to the crowd before each game. I’m sure that adds to the popularity.
COACH BLAIR: That’s right, and cavities.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m going to try that. (Laughter.) What do you think? Do you think that’s going to work if I go to the House of Representatives and just throw candy around? (Laughter.)
During the championship celebration, he was even telling people to buy tickets for next year. So he is a great salesperson as well as a great coach. I don’t know where he gets that kind of energy, but that attitude is reflected by the players on this stage.
We’ve got Danielle Adams, who dropped 30 points in the title game -- the second most in history. (Applause.) What I’m talking about. She’s now in the pros, tearing it up. As she said, “[My teammates are] doing everything for me, so I decided to take them on my back and just let them ride.” And that’s what she did.
Then there’s Tyra White, the Silent Assassin. (Applause.) Where did she go? There she is, over there? Hit a clutch three-pointer in the final minutes of the game to seal it for the Aggies.
You have the Sydneys -- Colson making it happen on offense, Carter applying pressure on defense. (Applause.)
These ladies are also serious students. I hear that Danielle and Tyra both took their math exams during spring break. The team has mandatory study halls on the road. They visit schools to tell kids about the importance of hard work, because they understand that a good jump shot doesn’t mean much if you can’t get it done in the classroom.
And that’s the kind of focus and the kind of discipline that makes these players such good role models for so many young women -- including my daughters, Malia and Sasha.
That’s also why they’re holding a clinic for some local students to teach them a few moves. Have you guys been out there practicing a little bit? Yeah? (Laughter.) Yeah, man, shoot. So I know that they are thrilled that you guys are willing to work with them. I fully expect them to be draining some three-pointers after they’ve gotten some tips from you guys.
So congratulations again. Thank you for the example that you set on and off the court. We are so proud of you. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see you back soon. And as they say at A&M, Gig ‘em! (Applause.)
COACH BLAIR: We have a jersey here. The 12th man at A&M means so much in the history of our school and our program. There’s always somebody in the stands in case somebody gets injured. But we’re the original 12th man, and I want you to wear it. And we also brought one for your wife. On your wife’s it says “Number One.”
THE PRESIDENT: Well, yes, that’s -- (laughter) -- I think that’s about right. I am 12th.
COACH BLAIR: But we’d just like to thank you. And it’s an honor for us at Texas A&M to be here, and it’s also an honor for us to work with young people like we have a chance in the clinic.
But thank you for your service to the country, and thank you for keeping Bob Gates on here for quite a while, because he meant a lot to our program.
THE PRESIDENT: That is a big Aggies fan right there. (Laughter.)
COACH BLAIR: But thank you, sir, for everything you’ve done.
THE PRESIDENT: Coach, thank you so much. (Applause.)
2:02 P.M. EDT