For years, the champions of the WNBA have been given the honor of visiting the Nation’s capital with a trip to the White House to celebrate their championship with the President. For the Los Angeles Sparks – the 2016 WNBA Champions -- that experience of a lifetime has not been able to happen yet, despite there being attempts made to set up a visit for the Sparks.
However, earlier this week something very special was delivered to the franchise.
President Obama found the time during his final days in the Office to write a congratulations letter to members of the Sparks, as reported by ESPN.
"Congratulations on winning the 2016 WNBA championship," the letter began. "Winning a title is never easy. Your hard work and determination set an impressive example, and your victory reflects the character and resilience you demonstrate both on and off the court. I admire your commitment to giving back and making a difference in your community.
"Congratulations, again, in your well-deserved success. I wish you all the very best. Sincerely, Barack Obama."
Terri Jackson, the WNBAPA's director of operations, told ESPN the players continued to ask on ways they could visit President Obama before his term ran out, but for the longest time, no answers were given to them from the White House on if the trip could be made possible.
"Our players were asking, 'What can we do? How can we make something happen?'" Jackson said. "The players were so clearly inspired by him; they felt he spoke to them, as women and as athletes. Our players felt he embraced diversity and inclusivity. It's everything our membership is about. But we knew our window was closing fast."
While it may not have been a visit to Washington, D.C, the letter itself carries respect and gave those apart of the Los Angeles organization something they can hang onto forever.
"We wanted to be a part of the legacy of President Obama before the end of the transition," Nneka Ogwumike shared with ESPN while she is in Russia. "But we knew with everybody's overseas commitments; it was going to limit what was available to us. We are grateful we had people who were ready to act on our behalf. This could easily have been a situation where things were just going to be left as they were. But they weren't and we are excited for that."
"We are all just so pleased that he made the space and time to do it, considering all the other things he had on his plate," Jackson said. "This was a great outcome."
"He's a big sports fan; he gets it. His respect was genuine, and we appreciate that he took the time,” said head coach Brian Agler. This would have been Agler’s second trip to visit President Obama after he led the Seattle Storm to a championship back in 2010.
"I got goose bumps when I saw President Obama's signature on the letter," WNBA MVP Ogwumike stated.
Currently, it has not been said if Los Angeles will be invited to the White House for this recognition under Presidential-elect Donald Trump, it is up to the White House to extend that offer.