LOS ANGELES – The USC men’s tennis team and men’s and women’s water polo teams and UCLA women’s gymnastics and softball teams will be among more than 30 NCAA championship teams from the 2009-2010 academic year honored by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony today.
The Trojan men’s water polo and tennis teams also won NCAA championships during the 2008-2009 academic year, but neither received invitations to the White House.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Steve Johnson, who was a member of the All-Tournament Team in both singles and doubles for helping lead USC to a second consecutive NCAA men’s tennis championship in May.
“We were bummed out last year when we didn’t get invited.”
Matt Sagehorn, who concluded his Trojan water polo career by scoring USC’s final goal in a 7-6 victory over UCLA in the 2009 NCAA championship game, called going to the White House and having the possibility of meeting the president “one of the greatest privileges that I could ever have.”
Sagehorn told City News Service he and his teammates “were a little bit worried” about again being bypassed for a White House visit, because they did not receive confirmation of the trip until about a month ago.
“It’s special because it’s been two years in the making to get to go,” said Sagehorn, a graduate of Wilson High School in Long Beach.
Brittani McCullough, whose career-high equaling score of 9.925 on the floor exercise clinched the NCAA women’s gymnastics championship for UCLA, called going to the White House “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“To be able to go and meet Obama to me means a lot,” McCullough said. “It’s very special.”
For McCullough, who is black, “it means a lot” that Obama is the first black president.
“That was a very big step,” McCullough said. “To be able to meet a person who was able to accomplish that is awesome.”
When asked what she would like to discuss with Obama, McCullough said, “I would like to congratulate him on his accomplishments because it is very inspiring.”
Megan Langenfeld, named as the Most Outstanding Player in softball’s Women’s College World Series for helping lead the Bruins to the championship, said if she had the opportunity to speak with Obama she would ask if he is backing efforts to have softball returned to the Olympics.