Nov. 12, 2008
WASHINGTON D.C. - In a day that will forever live in the memories of the Bulldog baseball team member, Fresno State's 2008 National Championship team was honored by President George W. Bush in a White House ceremony on Wednesday.
President Bush invited the Bulldogs to the White House to honor them for winning the College World Series. Fresno State joined some other NCAA team national championship teams at the White House. In his closing remarks, the President congratulated Fresno State for not giving up and quoted Bulldog right fielder Steve Detwiler.
Following an hour-long tour of the White House, the team got a private audience with President Bush and he posed for pictures at the base of the grand stair case. That staircase leads up to the residence area of the East Wing of the White House. In the area of the photo session were amazing portraits of former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhauer, Harry S. Truman and George H.W. Bush.
Bush and the Bulldogs chatted about baseball and the improbable College World Series victory. He praised the team for winning what he called "a brutally tough tournament" and congratulated them for their upset wins.
President Bush told the squad that he is close friends with Texas Longhorns coach Augie Garrido, a former Fresno State player.
Bush is an avid sports fan, and as the former owner of the Texas Rangers, he told the squad that he follows baseball most closely. He talked to the team about the importance of earning their degrees, and then chatted to a couple of the pro players on the team, Steve Susdorf (Phillies), Clayton Allison (Dodgers) and Justin Wilson (Pirates), about their experiences playing professional baseball.
After taking a team photo with the team, Bush adjourned to the South Lawn of the White House to address the teams. The White House band played the Bulldog Fight Song as the team paraded to their seats. Bulldog captains Steve Susdorf and Clayton Allison joined the President on stage. He saved his comments about the Bulldogs for the end of his speech, at which time he singled out Detwiler's grit and toughness. Detwiler played the majority of the season injured, and was an integral figure in Fresno State's College World Series championship. He drove in all six runs with two homeruns in Fresno State's 6-1 win over Georgia in the national championship game. Upon hearing his name spoken by the President, Detwiler was in shock.
"I was videotaping the speech and when he said my name, I started shaking," said Detwiler after. "I had chills up my spine and couldn't hold the camera still. This is way too soon, too much to even think about right now. I'm in awe, really. I'm lost for words."
The day began with a tour of some of the Washington D.C.'s most historic sites. The tour started at the Lincoln Memorial and a National Park Ranger, Bob Healy, provided the team with an informative and guided tour. After that, the team visited the Vietman Memorial, Korean Memorial and Washington Monument. The weather was overcast and unseasonably mild for winter on the east coast with temperatures in the mid-50s.
The Bulldogs went to the top of the Washington Monument, where the view was spectacular and one could see the D.C. metro area for nearly 40 miles in every direction.
After that, the Bulldogs went to the White House. After getting through the security screening process, the Bulldogs took an extensive tour of the White House, spending the majority of the time on the first floor of the East Wing.
The team enjoyed the White House tour and took plenty of photos of the various rooms and many famous portraits of former Presidents that line the walls. That led to the historic meeting the President Bush.
Transcript of the President George W. Bush Address
THE PRESIDENT: " Thank you all. Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. Champions day here on the South Lawn. We appreciate you coming. We appreciate the fact that as champions you have set goals and you have worked hard to achieve those goals.
I appreciate very much the fact that you brought your coaches with you, and people at your universities who support you. I'm proud to welcome the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, his wife Molly, and daughter Ella. He is here because he is a graduate of Northwestern University. Of course, you're probably here to cheer all the teams, right? Yes.
"Steve Detwiler said this -- he played with an injury by the way -- he said, "It's mind over matter. The pain is temporary. The pride is forever." And I suspect, Steve, a lot of athletes, whether they were on your team or on the teams represented here, can testify that pride is forever. This is a prideful moment for you."
President George W. Bush
I want to welcome other members of the administration, school officials, families, and fans. First team I want to honor is the team for which we have called upon this weather: the University of Alaska Fairbanks rifle team. (Laughter and applause.) The Nanooks are with us today. You won your 10th national championship and your third in a row. I want to welcome coach Dan Jordan and the folks from Fairbanks -- University of Alaska Fairbanks. I asked the captain, "Who did you beat to get here?" And he said, "Army." (Laughter.) The folks at West Point need to practice. (Laughter.) These guys make good competition to you. Congratulations. Welcome. And we are glad you're here.
A lot of teams from the state of Arizona have joined us. (Applause.) We put this weather on just for you. (Laughter.) The University of Arizona men's and women's swimming and diving teams are here. In March, the women defeated Auburn to win the national championship, and one week later, the men handily beat the University of Texas. We welcome you here. This is the first national championship for either team. And I got the feeling, having talked to some of the athletes, this will not be the last time you'll be at the White House, even though it will be my last time here at the White House. (Laughter.) Coach Frank Bush -- no relation -- and the mighty Arizona men and women's team, congratulations, and we welcome you. (Applause.)
The Arizona State University men's and women's indoor track and field team have joined us today. (Applause.) There you are. The Sun Devil men and women both took home indoor track and field championships. This was the first indoor title for the men, and a repeat for the women. You have a great leader and coach, Greg Kraft, and we're glad to welcome you back. Congratulations and thanks. (Applause.) Arizona State softball team is with us today. (Applause.) You went 66-5, and 10-0 during the post-season to capture the Sun Devils' first NCAA Softball National Title. When Coach Clint Myers arrived three years ago, he promised that you would win a national title -- that's a pretty bold promise, Coach Myers -- and you've delivered. And you thanked him by dumping Gatorade all over him. (Laughter.) I hope you sent them the cleaning bill.
The Florida State men's outdoor track and field team have joined us today, the mighty Seminoles. (Applause.) This is your third straight title. Coach Bob Braman told me that he -- last year, he said, "We'll be back, Mr. President." I said, "I'll be here, too." You're in the process of winning; you produced nine All-Americans. Congratulations on another great championship. (Applause.)
The Northwestern University women's lacrosse team. (Applause.) They finished 21-1. I must tell you, I was slightly disappointed when I came in the White House room there and looked at the feet of those women. I was looking for flip-flops. (Laughter.) Coach Kathy -- Kelly Hiller led you to the fourth straight national title over Penn, and here is what she said: "I'm not going to call ourselves a dynasty, but if you want to, I'm okay with it." (Laughter.) Welcome back, a dynasty. Congratulations, ladies. (Applause.)
LSU -- (applause) -- women's outdoor track and field team. Straight out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Laughter.) It came down to the wire -- the very last event of the very last day was the 4x400, and you won. And now you are the national champs. We welcome Coach Dennis Shaver and the women from Louisiana State University. (Applause.)
I'm proud to welcome back Coach John Murphy's Brown University women's rowing team. (Applause.) This is the second straight year that the women have been back. This is your sixth national championship in less than a decade. You are the most successful crew in NCAA women's rowing history. Congratulations, and welcome back to the White House. (Applause.)
And finally, Fresno State men's baseball. (Applause.) So you talk about a team that refused to quit. This team lost 12 of the first 20 games of the season. I suspect some of you wrote you off, you know, like -- (laughter) -- eight and 12? These guys call themselves champs?
You needed to win your conference tournament just to make the NCAA field of 64 teams. Six times in post-season you were only one game away from elimination. Every time you held on, and you became national champs. No wonder the ESPYs nominated you for the best upset of the year. I thank you for your willingness to never say die, your willingness to keep fighting. Steve Detwiler said this -- he played with an injury by the way -- he said, "It's mind over matter. The pain is temporary. The pride is forever." And I suspect, Steve, a lot of athletes, whether they were on your team or on the teams represented here, can testify that pride is forever. This is a prideful moment for you.
We are glad you're here at the White House. I thank you for being good champions on the field. I thank you for being champs off the field. I'm proud you're here at this grand house of the people. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States."
Join the State - Fresno State! The Bulldogs will attend a Fresno State Alumni function on Wednesday evening and return to Fresno on Thursday, arriving at campus at approximately 1:45 p.m. PT.
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