Six months after capturing UCSB’s second national championship, the men’s soccer team joined 28 other NCAA title teams at the White House for an audience with President Bush.
On June 18, the Gauchos were part of the largest ever Champions Day ceremony on the White House’s South Lawn, in which the President acknowledged each NCAA team champion in attendance during the eight-minute event. UCSB captains Kyle Reynish, Brian Byrne and Andy Iro were able to meet with the President before the ceremony, along with captains from the other champion teams.
Twenty-one schools comprised the 28 champion squads, and UC Irvine’s men’s volleyball team joined the Gauchos as the only other representatives from the Big West Conference. Other teams included in the ceremony were UCLA’s women’s water polo team – which earned the school’s NCAA-leading 100th national title – Pepperdine’s men’s tennis team, California’s men’s water polo squad and Stanford’s men’s golf team and women’s tennis team.
Auburn, Stanford, Wisconsin and Penn State all sent multiple teams to the ceremony, as each had multiple NCAA champions in the past year. Florida also won multiple NCAA titles last year in football and men’s basketball, but the football team had an exclusive event earlier this year.
Oregon State’s baseball team was busy defending its national title during the ceremony and was unable to attend. The Tennessee women’s basketball team was also among the NCAA winners that did not make the event.
The President spoke of what it takes to be a champion both on and off the field and about the importance of using the teams’ experiences as champions to help others. Bush acknowledged Pepperdine’s men’s tennis team for holding a free clinic in Washington, D.C. the day prior to the ceremony.