Washington President Barack Obama honored 19 NCAA Division I championship teams, including the 2012-13 Kansas University women’s track and field team, during a ceremony Monday at the White House.
The Kansas women’s team claimed the program’s first national championship during the four-day NCAA Outdoor meet last June in Eugene, Ore.
The Jayhawks were led by Lindsay Vollmer, who won a heptathlon title, and Andrea Geubelle, who was runner-up in long jump and triple jump. Vollmer and Geubelle were among a dozen KU athletes who made the trip to Washington.
Obama met with the athletes, who were given a tour of the White House, before concluding the visit with a short speech to the assembled teams on the South Lawn of the White House. Obama recognized each of the teams by name, beginning with KU track and field, before speaking about the ways college sports showcase athletes’ hard work and perseverance.
“It’s traditional to bring football and basketball teams here,” Obama said. “I think that for all these outstanding athletes in sports, it’s important to acknowledge that your investment in time and effort and dedication is just as significant.”
The president also praised the women’s champions for paving the way for his own daughters and other young women.
“There was a time when college women’s athletics was relegated to second status, and all of you here are showing the incredible strides we’ve made of the last couple of decades,” Obama said.