My Time At The White House

October 4, 2005

Few people can say they've been to a national championship basketball game and sat courtside. Even fewer can say they were a part of a team that won a national championship.

But when you examine the odds, raise that number to the third power and divide by two, a person would have even less of a chance of standing in the Oval Office talking to the President of the United States of America.

The Baylor Women's Basketball team was fortunate enough to do all three. The whirlwind began as the final seconds ticked off the clock at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis this past April. Hugs and tears, smiles and laughter came from across the country in support of us. A few days later invitations from churches, professional sports organizations and politicians poured in to congratulate us on a remarkable finish to an incredible year.

Drayton McLane and the Houston Astros, the Dallas Mavericks and the Texas Rangers paid tribute to the Lady Bears with an invitation to a home game and choice seating in a skybox. As amazing as those events were, nothing could compare to the one that came later in the summer.

We received a team e-mail July 5 and the subject line read: POTENTIAL DATE FOR WHITE HOUSE VISIT. Upon confirmation that the proposed trip had become a reality, each of us had only one question on our minds: "What on earth am I supposed to wear?"

We wondered what the President would be like and what it would be like to actually stand in the White House. Amid questions of how to conduct ourselves in the presence of the President and why we couldn't wear flip-flops, the anticipation mounted.

On July 19, a bus arrived at noon to take us to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The ride was routine -- just like old times heading out on a road game, except this time, there was no game to be won. At dinner that night in D.C., we learned our day with "Dubya" would begin before the sun came up. Despite our shock at an incredibly early morning ahead, we went to our rooms, unpacked our "Sunday best" and tried to get a little rest before our alarm clocks sounded at 5 a.m.

As we neared the White House, the one thing we all wanted to know was "How far do we have to walk?" High heels and dress sandals were the toughest things we'd had to defend against since the last time we'd picked up a basketball.

Upbeat and excited, we lined up in front of security personnel as we were checked. But before our meeting with the President, we had an official tour of the White House. At 8 a.m., we were taken to a waiting area and then escorted to the White House Tea Garden, where we would finally meet President Bush. We walked out onto the steps and lined up for a group photograph in front of dozens of cameras and photographers. Everyone stood up straight and put on their best smiles as if we were back in the third grade taking a class picture.

The highlight of the day came minutes later when President Bush, himself, walked us into the Oval Office. Talking to him was as natural as anything. With his smile and kind handshake, all our nervousness went away. He related to us as fellow Texans, and he spoke about the importance of freedom, the greatness of America and what it has to offer each of us. He commended us on our performance during the season, not because of our ability to win, but because of the character with which we had done it and what that meant as role models to people across the country.

It truly was an honor to be standing there. I was awe-struck and astonished at what had just occurred in my life. The chance to walk and stand where so many great men had, doesn't happen every day.

Each day holds the possibility of doing something great, but not every day holds the chance to experience greatness.

Tiffanie and twin sister Steffanie came to Baylor in 2001 as recruits of Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson. Both point guards, Tiffanie sustained an injury in the Lady Bears' 2004 NCAA Tournament run and became a student coach with the team. She is a senior in journalism with a concentration in telecommunications.