There are many ways to chart the rise of the UConn women’s basketball team into a national powerhouse. The simplest way is to count its eight national championships.
The other is to note how those championships have spanned three presidencies – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Each has greeted Geno Auriemma and his players since the 1995.
Well, the White House announced Thursday that the Huskies – again, reigning Division I champion – have been invited to another presidential reception on Wednesday. The ceremony is expected to begin at 2 p.m. Louisville, the men’s champion, visited the White House earlier this week.
UConn’s contingent will be greeted by President Obama for the third time. UConn’s undefeated national championships in 2009 and 2010 visited during his first term. And after a two-year break, during which Texas A&M and Baylor won the titles and president photo opportunities, UConn will get another tour of the White House.
It is expected that every member of the team will be able to attend. This weekend, Breanna Stewart (the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four), Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson are in Lithuania playing for the FIBA U-19 World Championship. Auriemma is also in attendance. But play will conclude in time – no later than Sunday – for them to make it to the ceremony.
Kelly Faris, the senior captain of the team, is in her rookie season with the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun. But coming off the All-Star break this weekend, she is also expected to be excused from practice to accompany her teammates to Washington. The Sun play home against Indiana on Thursday.
Over the years, Clinton, Bush and Obama have met all the great All-Americans in UConn championship history. In 2009, Obama even took some of them on in an impromptu game of HORSE on the basketball court he had constructed at the White House. That ceremony was held outside in the Rose Garden
The following year, the reception was held inside because of inclement weather.
The first reception in 1995 was with Clinton and was accented by guard Pam Webber and Auriemma presenting the President with a UConn cap and signed basketball.
In 2002 and 2003, Swin Cash, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi help hand President Bush a UConn jersey with his name on it.
In 2004, it was Maria Conlon who handed Bush his UConn jersey. That ceremony was held in conjunction with the UConn men after both became the first school in NCAA history to win simultaneous titles.