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June 18, 2005 - Image 11

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-06-18

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July 18, 2005

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National champs
visi Whi1 . VS teHouse ::l

By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
WASHINGTON - Being No. 1
certainly has its perks.
Thirty-four days after wrapping
up its first national championship in
heart-stopping fashion, the Michi-
gan softball team enjoyed a short
but memorable trip to the nation's
capital. Tuesday's 20-hour whirl-
wind tour of D.C. featured a stop
at the White House, a face-to-face
meeting with President Bush and a
reception on Capitol Hill featuring
lawmakers who praised the Wolver-
ines' efforts.
"A couple days after we won, we
joked about it - 'Oh, we're going
to get to see the President,' " junior
pitcher Jennie Ritter said. "And then,
a couple days later, we found out that
we actually are going to see the Pres-
ident. We were pretty excited."
After a delayed flight from Detroit
and a very brief night's sleep, the team
boarded a bus for the White House at
7:50 a.m. Along with 14 other nation-
al champion squads from across the
nation, the Wolverines waited in line
until they were permitted to enter the
building. The team then received a
brief tour of the East Wing before fil-
ing into the State Dining Room with
the Northwestern women's lacrosse
team and the Minnesota women's ice
hockey team.
"We all just waited in antici-
pation," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said.
Bush arrived and worked his way
around the room, greeting North-
western and Minnesota before finally
coming to the Michigan squad.
"The moment he walked in the
room, we dropped our mouths,"
Ritter said. "We were like 'Whoa,
there he is.' "
The Wolverines were the last team
in the "Big Ten room," but they
weren't shortchanged when it came to
sharing face time with the president.
While Bush briefly chatted with the
other two Big Ten squads, he made
sure to save a few extra minutes for
the softball team.
"He talked to us for a good five
minutes," Ritter said. "Most of the

other teams he went and took a pic-
ture and that was it. But he was really
excited to talk to us."
The team couldn't help but be
charmed by President Bush's enthusi-
asm. He said he watched the Michi-
gan's games in the Women's College
World Series and stated that he'd
"never want to hit" against Ritter. The
President also discussed the responsi-
bility of being a champion, the impor-
tance of role models and the role of
Lincoln during the Civil War.
"I think he sounded like a genu-
inely good guy," Ritter said. "A lot
different than you see on TV I think.
Very firm, very tough. He was very
funny, and I think very enjoyable."
The Wolverines gave the Presi-
dent a personalized jersey with
Bush's name and the number 99
emblazoned on the back, along with
a C.S. Mott Children's Hospital
wristband. Following the conversa-
tion, the team rejoined their fellow
national champions for a ceremony
on the South Lawn.
With their White House experi-
ence complete, the Wolverines then
grabbed lunch and headed to Capitol
Hill for a reception in their honor.
In the Rayburn House Office Build-
ing, the team gathered with Michigan
alumni, students and various VIPs
for an hour-long meet-and-greet in
which Michigan lawmakers of all
political stripes came together to
praise the softball team's efforts.
"I wanted to say how proud I am
of how you conduct yourselves, how
you represent us, how you represent
young women," U.S. Sen. Debbie
Stabenow said. "Not only in Michi-
gan and Ann Arbor - but across
the country."
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and U.S.
Reps. John Dingell, Vernon Ehlers,
Dale Kildee, Joe Schwarz and Fred
Upton joined Stabenow in celebrat-
ing Michigan's accomplishments.
Levin and Stabenow's enthusiasm
even spilled over onto the Senate
floor, where the Senate passed a reso-
lution honoring the softball team.
"It is a rare thing in the U.S. Sen-
ate that we can agree on anything,"
Levin said. "This resolution actually
passed, in a bipartisan unanimous

Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins and the rest of the softball team met President Bush at the White House latTuesday

vote. So we want to thank the softball The trip to Washington was a day of
team at the University of Michigan firsts for the Wolverines. Some Mich-
not just for your accomplishments, igan players, like Women's College
but for bringing together the United World Series MVP Samantha Find-
States Senate." lay, had never even seen the nation's
In addition to having their egos capital before. In addition, the team
boosted by the Senate resolution and became the first female Michigan
the lineup of speeches in their honor, team to visit the White House, and
some Wolverines found the ceremony they were the first Michigan squad of
beneficial in more practical ways. either gender to do so since the foot-
"It was pretty great for connec- ball team met with former President
tions," sophomore pitcher Lorilyn Clinton in 1998.
Wilson said. "I've met some people "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experi-
I've needed to, because I want to do ence," Hutchins said.
an internship here. I'm going to milk
it for all its worth."
After the reception, the Wolver-
ines toured the Capitol and then A Dli f AINC
spent a few hours sightseeing before
an evening flight whisked them back
to Ann Arbor.
Congrati s r TO GO ON AN

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Thank you, Ann Arbor, for voting us
- 2005 Michigan Daily Reader's Poll
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