On Monday, the 2020 Seattle Storm became the first WNBA champions to visit the White House since the 2015 Minnesota Lynx. President Joe Biden welcomed the team and spoke along with Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder, Force4Change director of community engagement Crystal Langhorne and Storm star Sue Bird.
Biden thanked Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd for “bringing the gold home,” referring to Team USA at the recent Tokyo Olympics, and lauded the things the Storm do that go beyond basketball.
“What makes this team remarkable is they don't just win games, they change lives,” Biden said. “Encouraging people to get vaccinated so we can beat this pandemic. Speaking out and standing up for racial justice and voting rights. Supporting education and mentorship programs for young people. And fighting to protect trans youth from an epidemic of violence and discrimination. That’s what winners do. They shine the light, they lift people up, they’re a force for change. That’s the Seattle Storm. That’s the WNBA. That’s what they do.”
Biden also joked with Stewart about her growing up in Syracuse, N.Y. but not attending Syracuse University, where he went to law school.
With the Storm being the first women’s sports team to visit the White House since Biden and the first female vice president, Kamala Harris, took office, Biden alluded to everything the WNBA has done to inspire young girls.
Of course, the 2020 championship was won under unprecedented circumstances: a global pandemic and social unrest. That was not lost on anyone at the White House ceremony.
“These athletes did not enter the bubble and leave behind the pain, grief and fury of the movement for social change that was washing across our country, stirred up by the ongoing crisis of police killings of Black people,” Gilder said when it was her turn to speak. “In fact, they did the dead opposite. The women of the W waded into the center of this movement. They used their play on the court and their eloquence off not merely to demand change, but to generate engagement and cause change.”
Langhorne explained the Force4Change initiative that she leads as striving to create “a more equitable society” by amplifying black women, black youth and the LGBTQ+ community and spoke of its $100,000 investment in the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle this summer.
Langhorne was a member of the 2020 Storm and retired prior to this season. While she was never able to visit the White House as a member of DC’s own Washington Mystics, the former Maryland Terrapin has now returned to the DMV as a WNBA champion twice with the Storm.
“Being the first women’s team to visit this administration, an administration that aligns with so many of our values, is an honor,” Langhorne concluded.
The Storm’s ownership endorsed Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
I'm honored to join my @SeattleStorm co-owners, @lisabrummel & @dawntru to endorse the @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris ticket for President. We don't typically endorse candidates, but these are NOT typical times. #Force4Change https://t.co/waOa80FY7r— Ginny Gilder (@ginnygilder) October 21, 2020
Bird, Loyd and Stewart then presented Biden with a No. 46 Storm jersey in honor of him being the 46th president of the United States.
You can view the full ceremony below: