WASHINGTON — The five members of Texas Christian University's national championship rifle team were already beside themselves to be on the South Lawn of the White House Monday evening at a celebration of all NCAA sports champions when President Barack Obama gave them the first shout-out.
"We've got the sharpshooters from the TCU rifle squad. Where are they?" Obama asked as the all-female team's members, standing near the camera risers, screamed. "I think that they may be able to give the Secret Service a run for their money."
The TCU Horned Frogs team earned some extra attention since it's the first all-female national rifle championship winner in NCAA history — the sport can have all male, mixed gender and all female teams.
"That was so awesome," said Sarah Scherer, 19, a sophomore from Fort Worth, "to be recognized by the president."
Obama spoke briefly to the 650 student athletes from 32 schools, praising them for being students and athletes. "You didn't do it as professionals," he said. "You put in countless hours of practice for the love of the game and for the pride of your school."
As the president worked the rope line, shaking hands and talking to many of the students, he reached the TCU team — who stood out in their black dresses and matching purple and black TCU cowboy boots.
"He said, 'Check out the boots,'" said Caitlin Morrissey, 19, of Topeka, Kan.
TCU chancellor Victor Boschini, who also was at the event, said that the university had given the president his own pair of TCU boots, as well — all the championship teams brought some item of clothing with their logo which were collected at a security checkpoint.
"It's a real once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us," Boschini said.
There was another surprise for the president — team member Simone Riford, 22, of Hawaii graduated from Obama's Honolulu high school — and was wearing her class ring to prove it.
"I showed him my ring," she said of and they spoke about Hawaii and Punahou High School.
Obama told the TCU team that he, too, practiced shooting with a rifle. "He said he practiced with the Secret Service," said Riford, who graduated from TCU in May and now works in Fort Worth.
"It's a great experience," said Scherer, who grew up in Boston. "Our sport is not very well known so to be invited to the White House is very exciting."
Erin Lorenzen, 22, of Fort Wayne, Ind., who graduated in May, said that had once she visited the White House on her 8th grade class trip. "This time it'll be inside the fence," she said beforehand.
Sarah Beard, 19, a sophomore from Danville, Ind., said that winning the championship as a freshman "was a good way to end my first year."
Coach Karen Monez was thrilled that Obama gave them such personal attention.
"It can't get any better than that — to be recognized at the start."
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