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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

UMD Visits White House

News Tribune Article:

Bulldogs attend champions ceremony at White House
Andy Greder Duluth News Tribune
Published Wednesday, June 25, 2008
University of Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey players didn’t wait until they arrived at the White House in Washington, D.C., to become excited about meeting President Bush.

The Bulldogs peppered head coach Shannon Miller with questions before their7 a.m. flight Tuesday from Duluth.

The players remained elated during a ceremony for NCAA champions on a sunny afternoon on the South Lawn, as President Bush commended UMD on its fourth trip to the White House since 2001.

“[UMD] earned their fourth championship in the past eight years,” Bush said in his speech. “It’s good to see you again.

“One of the things I tell people is, is that if you work hard and become a repeat champion, I look forward to welcoming you back to the White House. However, this time it’s not going to work. My eligibility has run out.”

Former Bulldogs met Bush, now in his last year as president, during previous trips to the nation’s capital in 2003, 2002 and 2001. UMD beat Wisconsin 4-0 to win the NCAA women’s hockey title March 22 in the Women’s Frozen Four at the DECC.

Before Tuesday’s ceremony, the Bulldogs shook hands with the 43rd president, posed for pictures and senior captain Karine Demeule presented Bush with a No. 43 jersey that included the Bulldog logo.

“It was fun,” said Demeule of Montreal. “We were lucky to be there.”

Demeule was one of 20 captains from other NCAA Division I champions to be on stage behind the president during his speech.

“It’s a huge honor to be asked to go to the White House by the president,” Miller, who has a 234-61-25 record in nine seasons at UMD, said by phone. “Every time you win, it is a different team and a different year. It makes you hungry for more.”

During the festivities, Miller met University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, who led the Volunteers to their eighth national title in March.

UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin told Summitt that she and Miller have similar coaching styles that emphasize discipline, toughness and excellence from their student-athletes.

“It was very exciting to have the chance to chat with her,” Miller said.

Assistant coaches Julie Chu, Caroline Ouellette and Robb Stauber and 21 of the 22 players from last year’s team made the trip. The only absent player was freshman Iya Gavrilova, who is at home in Russia while the NCAA investigates her eligibility status.

Before the ceremony, the Bulldogs toured the White House and went on a brief sightseeing tour of Washington, D.C., monuments.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also attended the ceremony.

Last season the Bulldogs established a school record 34 wins, and also won Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season and playoff titles.

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