2:20 P.M. EDT
THE FIRST LADY: Hello, everyone. Go ahead and sit down. I’m so proud to welcome the 2023 NCAA Champions, the LSU Tigers, to the White House! (Applause.)
In this room, I see the absolute best of the best: Jasmine Carson, who led the team with 22 points, going seven for seven in the first half. (Applause.) Angel Reese, who broke the NCAA record for double-doubles in a season. (Applause.) Alexis Morris, who led with nine assists. (Applause.)
All of you, who worked together as one, scoring the most points ever in a women’s title game. (Applause.)
Watching you was pure magic. The way you passed like you could read each other’s thoughts. The air crackling with the electricity of that connection. The crowd seemed to breathe with one breath, our hearts racing to the rhythm of each thump of the ball. Every basket was pure joy.
And I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come. I grew up before Title IX. And young women in my day just didn’t have the same opportunities to play sports. I see a lot of heads shaking. Over the years, we’ve seen the push and pull of progress, including, in women’s basketball, the attempts to create women’s leagues, the 1996 Olympic team, the WNBA, and this year, when almost 10 million people watched your final, shattering records. (Applause.)
We’ve made so much progress, and we still have more work to do.
Your game was everything I love about sports: a team at the top of its game refusing to let anything stand in your way.
As I watched, I felt the history of that moment, of all the women before you who dared to be fast and furious, who ignored the critics and just played.
I thought about every little girl who will come after — how you showed them that they belong on the court; that they can be strong and tough; that they can fail and fall down, take risks, and run until their legs feel like they will give out, then run some more. That they can win.
You didn’t just play basketball. You didn’t just make history. You showed us, girls and boys, women and men, what it means to be a champion. You — (applause) — yes.
You gave us hope and joy, a way to find that fire in ourselves, and, most of all, the chance to see you soar. Thank you for giving us those gifts.
And congratulations once again to the LSU Tigers! (Applause.)
And now it’s my pleasure to introduce another incredible, inspiring woman: our amazing Vice President, Kamala Harris. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, everyone. And good afternoon to these extraordinary leaders.
Thank you, Dr. Biden, for that introduction and for your advocacy, always. I watch you when the cameras are on and when they are off, and you are always fighting for the equality of women in every sector — in sports, in pay, and beyond. Thank you for your leadership. (Applause.)
And thank you, of course, to our President, Joe Biden; to the Second Gentleman; and to all the distinguished guests who are here.
And welcome to a group that defines excellence in every way — truly excellence. Coach Kim, thank you for your extraordinary leadership. We had a moment to talk about your seasons of winning in terms of being a coach and inspiring the young women of America. Thank you for the work that you do. (Applause.)
And to the winners of this year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament, the LSU Tigers. Congratulations. Congratulations. Congratulations. (Applause.)
So, a few months ago, I had the chance to meet Alexis and Angel and Flau’jae. And I was so impressed by their poise, by their strength, by their intelligence, and by their love for each other.
And I understood immediately, when I first met them, how you all took home the trophy, because you are not just a team, you are a family. You support each other on and off the court. You represent your teammates, your school, and your community with dignity and with grace at every step.
Throughout your record-breaking season, you showed the world who you are: You are leaders. You are role models. And, of course, you are champions.
Tigers, we know: Through your grit, determination, and brilliance, you changed the game. When you take the court,
you inspire so many people across our country. And as we talked about earlier, you are inspiring people that you may never meet. But through your excellence and your enthusiasm, you are lifting up whole communities of people around our country — and not only because of how you play, but because of who you each are.
You remind all of us of what we can achieve when we work hard and strive with ambition.
For all of us, from the youngest to the eldest — (laughter) — from the mouths of babes — (laughs) — I congratulate the Tigers.
And now it is my great honor to introduce a leader who also knows a thing or two about winning: our President, the United — of the United States, Joe Biden. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Please, be seated. This is getting old hat for the coach. (Laughter.) She’s been here with 19 presidents. (Laughter.) All with championship teams. But I think this may be her best moment in terms of the team she’s with.
Folks, thanks, Kamila [sic] — Kamala and Jill. And — and you just described how inspiring this team is, and we — we — we’re joined by many, many fans all across the country. And, by the way, it seems to me half the folks in this room are from Louisiana. (Applause.)
I want to welcome back President Tate. The last time we were in the White House, we talked about the leadership guiding the university through the pandemic.
This time, we’re celebrating the champions that have captivated the nation with their talent and their heart and their grit.
You know, we’re joined by members of the Louisiana delegation — Troy Carter, Garret Graves, Mike Johnson — and a lot of alumni too.
We have the proud alumni of Louisiana State here in my Cabinet. Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Stand up, Ambassador. (Applause.) (Laughter.) Class of 2004? (Laughter.)
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yes. (Laughs.)
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. All right.
She brought — (laughs) — she’s brought her — she’s brought global — global leaders together. You know how she does it? She’s up in the United Na- — and, by the way, she’s a major, major player in this administration. And I wondered how is she getting all these folks up in — up in the — you know, the United Nations to work together. She gives them — she takes them to her kitchen — (laughter) — no, no, no — to get to know each other. She calls it the “gumbo diplomacy.” (Laughter.) No, that’s not — not a joke. (Applause.)
Director of Management and Budget — (applause) — Shalanda Young. Where is Shalanda? There you go. Shalanda Young back there, Director of Management and Budget, putting together a deal hopefully. (Applause.) She grew up in Baton Rouge — (pronounced in French accent) — in Clinton, Louisiana, and is now helping lead the critical budget talks for — in the middle of now. But she said, “I’m not — I’m leaving the talks to be here.” (Laughter.)
And we’re all here to celebrate a remarkable group of student athletes. You know, Angel, Alexis, Jasmine, Flau’jae, you know, the entire team. You — less than a year ago, you’d — you’d never even played together.
And, Coach, like I said, you’re Hall of Fame, man. I tell ya. (Laughter.) That’s — I — I — isn’t this getting old for you — winning all this time? (Laughter.) A Hall of Fame championship coach had a vision: nine new players joining into one powerhouse team.
You started the season five straight 100-point games. Continued into the record 23-and-0 run. Rolled through the regular season with the best in the nearly 20 years and into the Big Dance and one of the most exciting Final Fours ever, winning LSU’s first national championship basketball title.
Angela Reese — excuse me, Angel, you — you’re named the Most Outstanding Player. Wasn’t any reason — it didn’t surprise me. (Laughter.) Demand for tickets was so high you — you couldn’t — you cau- — you know, you made them more expensive for people to come. (Laughter.) You know what I mean? The cost of tickets went up 10 times. Ten times. And more than the men’s games. (Laughter and applause.)
The final was the most viewed game in the history of women’s basketball. More viewers than any — than the NBA playoffs.
And, folks, we witnessed history.
And here’s what else we saw: Parents and children who watched every single one of your games together, sometimes driving 10 hours just to see you play.
And then — and then we’ve seen you take the time to talk to them, to laugh with them, to show millions of our daughters they can do anything as well. Anything.
You know, in this team, we saw hope, we saw pride, and we saw purpose. It matters.
You know, it’s been 51 years since Congress passed Title IX, guaranteeing all and girls equal right to participate not only in sports but in any school program.
Today, 58 percent — and that’s a — my colleagues don’t like me always mentioning this — but 58 percent of all college students are women, up from 42 percent — (applause) — not athletes — in college are women.
And there are now about 10 times more female athletes in college and high school than there were. Millions more women are getting sports scholarships and a chance not just to play but to earn degrees and build their lives.
But there’s — there’s more progress to make.
In the media, 95 percent of sports stories are still about men. It’s not an issue though — (laughs) — not with this team. (Laughter.)
Folks, we need to support women’s sports not just during the championship runs but the entire year, in every season. Showing up in person. Watching on television. Creating more programming and sponsor- — and scholarships and sponsorships and opportunities for millions of women and girls to realize their dreams and know they can do literally anything at all.
You know, I used to tell our daughters, our granddaughters, they can do anything at all. Anything any man can do, they can do. And that’s what makes Amer- — that’s what America is all about: possibilities. And that’s what this team is all about: incredible athletes redefining what’s possible.
And one more thing: We’re hosting the UConn’s men basketball team later today. And they’re the men’s champs —
(A participant faints on stage.)
(Cross-talk by participants on stage.)
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a lot of standing.
(Cross-talk by participants on stage.)
THE PRESIDENT: Folks, it’s okay. We’re get- —
(Cross-talk by participants on stage.)
THE PRESIDENT: Everything is okay. We’re going to –everything is all right. It’s a lot of standing. I apologize.
(Event pauses to provide medical care to participant.)
THE PRESIDENT: She’s okay. She’s — it’s happened lots of times.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s — like I said: This is not the first time it’s happened, not to her but to any — a lot of folks standing up on this stage.
So, folks, the — I — I know it’s time to move on, but the one thing I understand — I started to say: Later this afternoon, I’m going to be with the Connecticut team, the men’s team, and your cousin wants to have a one-on-one. (Laughter.) I’m putting my money on you, kid.
MS. REESE: Okay. (Laughs.)
THE PRESIDENT: Did you know that? She — she’s got a — she’s got a cousin — starts on another team. I think his — what’s his name? Hawkins? Something like that?
MS. REESE: Jordan.
THE PRESIDENT: Jordan, do you think? Maybe, yeah?
MS. REESE: Yeah. (Laughter.)
MR. PRESIDENT: Yeah, well, we’ve got — we’ve got — we’ve got a bet going in our — inside. So we — there’s a basketball court down below. (Laughter.) You think I’m joking. So we’re going to work something out here, right?
MS. REESE: Yeah.
THE PRESIDENT: One on one? (Laughter.)
MS. WARD: I have Angel.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I’ve got Angel too. (Laughter and applause.)
And besides, I’ve got Secret Service to make sure Angel’s going to win. (Laughter.)
I tell you what, between a brother and a sister having two stars on championship ball clubs the same year, it ain’t bad. But they’re all around the Baltimore area, right?
Yeah. That’s my family — all of my family was from — (speaks in a Baltimore accent) — Bawlmer. Bawlmer, as they say.
At any rate, thank you all, again, for your — for your patience for being here.
Look, there’s an awful lot — an awful lot to be proud of. And — and the way in which women’s sports has come along, it’s just incredible. And you’re — and you’re changing the na- — and it’s not just in sports. It’s across the board in every single thing. And it’s really neat to see since I’ve got four granddaughters.
We — we had some pretty good athletes. I wasn’t a bad athlete; my brothers weren’t. But all the real athletes in this family are women. (Laughter.) So — you — you got it. You got it.
Any rate — so, thank you all for being here.
Coach, I’m going to turn this over to you. And I, again, want to congratulate you. I assume I’ll be seeing you next year and next year. So — (laughter and applause).
And, by the way, that doesn’t even count the new fashion line she’s going to come out with. (Laughter.)
COACH MULKEY: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
COACH MULKEY: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: All yours, kid. You might want to use that.
COACH MULKEY: Do I have to? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: No.
COACH MULKEY: No.
THE PRESIDENT: You can use this, if you want.
COACH MULKEY: It doesn’t matter.
THE PRESIDENT: Either one. You can leave, if you want; anything you want to do. (Laughter.)
COACH MULKEY: Well, as y- — as you can see, we leave our mark where we go. (Laughter.) Sa’Myah planned that.
No, Sa’Myah is fine. For those of you who are concerned, Sa’Myah is fine. I’ll assure you of that. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed. She doesn’t want to leave; she wants to stand with us, but she needs to be checked out. (Applause.)
I would like to thank you, President Biden, Vice President Harris.
I don’t want to get emotional here, but we are a proud state. I came back to the state of Louisiana to be a positive. Little did I know that I would get to coach this group of people. They came to our state, and you are looking at the finest our state has to offer right here. (Applause.)
We — we have parents here. I don’t think I’ve ever come where the parents were allowed to come. That touches my heart. We have my grandchildren, my family. We have coaches’ families. We have administrators here. As I said, we’re very, very proud.
I would like for Angel Reese, I would like for Emily Ward — our co-captains — to present to you and your better half, Dr. Jill Biden — (laughter) — a token of our appreciation. (Applause.)
Get in the picture. Get in the picture. (Laughter.) (A photograph is taken.) (Applause.)
(Ms. Reese and Ms. Ward present the President and First Lady with a gift.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: By the way, one thing about Louisiana is it’s dangerous. You know why? Our daughter was going to go to school where her brothers went to school, but she decided to go to Tulane. (Laughter.)
And I was worried — and see that guy down there? Landrieu, the former mayor.
COACH MULKEY: I know a thing or two about his father, Moon.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I know — and his father, Moon, is a hell of a guy and took care of my daughter. Because I was worried she was going to come home with some boy from Bayou La Fouche or something, you know? (Laughter.)
COACH MULKEY: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: And talking funny. I couldn’t understand. You know what I mean?
COACH MULKEY: We still speak the French language. That part of Louisiana hasn’t washed away yet.
THE PRESIDENT: I know. Well, none of it is going to wash away. And besides, it’s an incredible, incredible state.
But, anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you.
COACH MULKEY: Thank you. We are honored. (Applause.)
2:46 P.M. EDT