March 12, 2002

Women's Soccer Meets President Bush

March 12, 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The 2001 National Champion Santa Clara University women's soccer team spent this afternoon at the White House as part of Champions Day, and met President George W. Bush in a ceremony in the East Room.

"We have never had so many champions inside one room in White House history," the President said. "Thank you for making history, not only when you won the championship but being here as well."

Bush said even with the nation at war, young athletes can affect society and are seen as role models with responsibilities.

"You have a fantastic opportunity as champs to help define the character of America," he continued. "I will say it loud and clear, we will not tolerate evil and that the collective goodwill of our country and the gathering momentum of million of acts of kindness will define the very nature of America."

He added the White House is the People's House, and he plans to continue to invite national champions.

ESPN's Chris Fowler introduced seniors Danielle Slaton and Kerry Cathcart, as well as junior Aly Wagner, as the Bronco trio represented the team on stage and presented President Bush a Santa Clara jersey and cap. With the back of the jersey labeled 'The Prez', Bush joked to the girls that the label was "very Californian."

Wagner said after the ceremony, Bush said to her that it was pretty cool to be a champion and she replied, "I wouldn't have it any other way."

"He was really down to earth and joking around with us," Slaton said.

"This puts an exclamation point on an otherwise fabulous accomplishment," head coach Jerry Smith said. "To be here at the White House and hear the President of the United States say 'Santa Clara University' and be honored is just unimaginable. I never thought this would be something we would be doing had we won the national championship."

Senior goalkeeper Ynez Carrasco celebrated her 23rd birthday at the White House and received a birthday kiss on the cheek from President Bush.

Various U.S. Senators and Congressmen were in attendance, as well as Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez, and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, who is now the President of Miami. The Broncos were also represented by University President Paul Locatelli, S.J., and Bronco Bench President Rick Giorgetti.

The University of Miami (Fla.) baseball and football teams, the North Carolina men's soccer team, the University of Arizona softball team, the Stanford women's volleyball and the Kentucky cheerleading squad were also in attendance.

Santa Clara's travel party departed from campus early on Monday and flew most of the day. The team ate dinner and did some sightseeing in Georgetown that night before preparing for their big day.

On Tuesday, the Broncos visited the National Mall, the Lincoln, Korean and Vietnam Veterans Memorials, and the Smithsonian American History Museum before taking part in a tour of the White House.

On Wednesday, the squad will visit the National Holocaust Museum before returning to campus.