TUCSON--The newly crowned NCAA Champion Arizona softball team gets to meet the nation's leader in person next week with an invitation to the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
The team's visit, unlike some Rose Garden events with several victorious national, Olympic or world champion teams, will involve participation in an afternoon youth tee-ball contest on the White House lawn between two girls' teams from Virginia and Maryland. Several of the Wildcats will serve as coaches for each squad of 7-year-olds.
UA pitcher Taryne Mowatt, the Most Outstanding Player after helping lead UA to the national title at the Women's College World Series, and four-time first-team All-American outfielder Caitlin Lowe will serve as base coaches for the game, while Kristie Fox, Chelsie Mesa, Laine Roth and Callista Balko have been tabbed as bench coaches for the squads.
Afterward, President George W. Bush will officially greet the parties. Everyone is then invited to stay on hand for a picnic on the South Lawn.
|U.S. Capitol Building|
The game pits teams from the Cumberland, Md., Allegany Little League and the Luray, Va., Little League and is expected to take about an hour.
It's the 16th such game on the White House lawn under President Bush's initiative to boost interest in youth sports. Bush is the first former Little Leaguer (Midland, Texas) to be elected to the nation's highest office.
UA's party of about 40 team members, coaches, administrators, area institutional representatives and former President Peter Likins, will visit the downtown ESPN Zone restaurant at 555 12th St. NW for a reception at 6:30 p.m., with the UA Alumni Association as host. UA area alumni are welcome to attend. U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, Sen. John Kyl and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson-area Congressional districts are among invitees.
Grijalva and Kyl introduced resolutions in the House and Senate this week recognizing the softball team for its accomplishment. [The resolutions subsequently were passed by the House and Senate the week of June 18-22.]
Two other University of Arizona teams previously have been invited to the White House -- Coach Lute Olson's 1997 men's NCAA Basketball Champion by the Bill Clinton administration, and Coach Mike Candrea's sixth (2001) of eight NCAA Softball Champion teams by the first Bush administration. That team visited Washington in early 2002.
Candrea's national champion of last year was to be invited this month for a gathering of several NCAA title squads from various schools in the past year until it stepped up and won a second consecutive championship on June 6th to induce the special invitation for the tee-ball event, according to UA associate athletics director Kathleen LaRose. UA director of athletics Jim Livengood and she will lead the delegation along with Candrea.