Washington, DC – In a historic first for women’s football, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama congratulated the D.C. Divas on winning the 2015 Women’s Football Alliance national championship in a White House ceremony yesterday. It is the first time that a women’s football championship team has been recognized at a White House event attended by the President of the United States.
The seeds for this groundbreaking moment were sown at last year’s White House Easter Egg Roll, where several members of the D.C. Divas met First Lady Michelle Obama. Wide receiver Ashley Whisonant and linebacker Tia Watkins invited Mrs. Obama to attend a Divas game. The First Lady responded, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it to a game, but if you ladies win the championship, we’ll have you out to the White House to celebrate!”
On August 8, 2015, the D.C. Divas defeated the Dallas Elite, 30-26, to capture the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) national championship in Los Angeles. True to their word, the Obamas invited the entire D.C. Divas team to the White House on March 28, 2016, to pay tribute to them on their national championship victory.
Over 40 Divas players, coaches, and staff members were shown around the White House before gathering in the State Dining Room for the ceremony. After much anticipation, the President and First Lady entered the room to thunderous applause. President Obama addressed the team and acknowledged his wife’s pledge, saying, “My wife Michelle promised you that we would invite you here if you won the title, and I’m happy to say we have kept our promise!”
“I want to wish you all congratulations on winning the women’s football championship. You have made us all very proud,” President Obama continued. “I wish the Divas the best of luck this season as well, but unfortunately, we won’t be in the White House to recognize the champions next year!”
The President and First Lady greeted team owner Paul Hamlin and head coach Alison Fischer, who presented them with the WFA championship trophy. The Obamas then took a group photo with the team.
After the photo, both the President and the First Lady greeted the Divas individually. President Obama shook hands with several members of the team, many of whom showed him their championship rings. The President complimented them, smiling and saying, “Hey, those are tremendous! Those are some very nice rings!”
As President Obama moved toward the door, he called back several times with a laugh, “Come on, Michelle! Time to move along!” Mrs. Obama, however, remained in the middle of the room, dispensing handshakes and hugs to every player who wanted one. The Obamas finally left the State Dining Room to the same level of applause with which they entered.
2016 marks the first time in women’s football history that a sitting president has personally recognized a championship team by attending a White House event in their honor. The D.C. Divas would like to extend their sincere thanks to the President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, for this tremendous event and for their outstanding support of women’s football.