In a light-hearted ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President George Bush honored members of Oklahoma's 2000 national championship softball and football teams. OU's teams are the first national champions to be honored in Bush's presidency.

After head coach Patty Gasso presented Bush two bats and an autographed softball, he called the softball team an "unsinkable bunch of upstarts" who broke California's hold on the sport. In addition to recognizing their athletic accomplishments, Bush reminded the Sooners they were role models off the field as well.

"I'd like to remind those who are champions on the field that it's important to be a champion off the field, too, that there's a lot of young men and women who look at you all as champs," Bush said. "Being the champ the national champ--is an awesome responsibility. It means not only do you get to carry a trophy, it means you have the burden of setting the example, of saying to young kids, 'Somebody cares about you enough so that we'll help you make the right choices in life.'"

Gasso said that this was an experience both she and her players would never forget.

"It was absolutely worth everything we have gone through for this opportunity," she said. "I didn't know what to expect, but his was so friendly and cordial. And it was fun. I'm still quite jittery from it, but it's something we'll always, always remember."

The Oklahoma softball team captured its first-ever national championship by beating UCLA, 3-1, at the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. The title was the first by a women's athletic program at OU. The Sooners finished the season with the best record in the country at 66-8. OU became just the second non-West Coast team to win a softball national championship. OU Head Softball Coach Patty Gasso was named Big 12 and National Coach of the Year.


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