Penn State Athletes Honored at White House
By Michelle Willemin, for StateCollege.com
It’s not every day that a championship team visits the president just 48 hours after its record winning streak is broken.
But members of the Penn State women’s volleyball team were just that lucky. Along with the top-placed Penn State men’s and women’s fencing teams, they traveled down to Washington, D.C., on Monday for NCAA Champions Day at the White House.
The teams left State College around 9 a.m. and, upon arriving an hour early in the capital, walked around the National Mall. After exploring the monuments, the athletes headed to the White House, where they gathered on the South Lawn for refreshments.
About 6 p.m., President Barack Obama emerged to share a few words of congratulations before greeting the group. Although a rope did separate the president from his guests, most were able to shake his hand and manage a picture or two.
After the brief meet-and-greet, the Penn Staters returned home to State College. Before leaving, however, they did manage to run into U.S. Sen. John Kerry, of Massachusetts.
The Lady Lions volleyball team has a total of four NCAA National Championships, three of them captured in the past three years. The champions also captured their seventh consecutive Big Ten title last season.
Their 109-match winning streak ended with a loss Saturday to Stanford.
More than 30 top collegiate teams from across the country were honored Monday at the White House, along with individual student-athletes recognized for community service. The distinctions are part of a presidential effort to reward students and collegiate groups for athletic prowess and community-oriented volunteerism.
Editor's note: Michelle Willemin is a StateCollege.com intern for fall 2010.