The President said that he was proud of the team and made a special note that, as a dad of two girls, it is teams like the UConn Huskies who helped women make a name for themselves in professional basketball.
“It was this program in the mid-1990s as much as anything that helped propel women’s basketball into the national consciousness, and thanks to players like each of these women, and those who came before them, our young women today look at themselves differently, especially tall young women, like my daughters,” he said. “My girls look at the TV when I am watching Sports Center and they see women staring back, and that shows them they can be champions too.”
During the ceremony, President Obama made special mention of Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery for awards they have won. Montgomery is going pro and playing with the Minnesota Lynx.
He also congratulated Auriemma on being named coach of the year and coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team in the 2012 games.
“Congratulations to Coach Geno on just the incredible season that took place as a consequence of these extraordinary young woman,” Obama said. “Although, when you win by an average of 30 points, it not that hard a selection to make,” Obama joked.
“Under Coach Auriemma’s leadership, this Huskies program has redefined excellence again and again,” Obama said.
Then he went through the programs accomplishments: six of the last 15 NCAA titles, five undefeated regular seasons, three undefeated championship seasons and two 39-0 seasons.
“For this team, an undefeated season just wasn’t enough. They became the first team in NCAA history, men or women’s, to win every single game by double digits, which is just an unbelievable statistic."
“Coach Geno and each of the women here understand that being champion does not stop when you step off the court. Just last week, these ladies were recognized by the NCAA for top academic performance as a team, and over the course of 24 seasons, Coach Geno’s team had a 100 percent graduation rate. That is worthy of some applause,” he said.
President Obama also honored the team for their service off the court, including their support of Geno’s Cancer Team, which raises money to fight cancer.