Dores to White House

This was the second White House invitation for the Dores

by Rod Williamson

WASHINGTON D.C.— Vanderbilt’s national champion bowling team joined 46 other NCAA championship teams Monday in the first ever “College Athlete Day”, hosted by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Douglas Emhoff and Charlie Baker, the former governor of Massachusetts and new president of the NCAA.The theme of the morning from Baker and the Vice President was a reminder that they represented a half-million student-athletes from across the nation (520,000 to be more precise) that “made it to the top of the pile” in the words of Governor Baker. “Out of many, one.”It was certainly an unforgettable day for the Vanderbilt program and team. One could see the excitement building among the Commodores as they made their way through two security checkpoints and onto the historic South Lawn. Time was given the teams to roam those grounds, getting keepsake photographs with the White House and other iconic views in the background.These Commodores came from far and wide to be on hand. Some left jobs and internships, others left preparations for the upcoming weekend’s U.S. Open and Paige Peters, who had her wisdom teeth removed last Friday and still sported a swollen jaw to prove it, arrived by Amtrak from New Jersey as she was advised not to fly. Nobody regretted their effort to attend, it was a day for celebration, not politics.Each team chose one representative to go on stage and represent their school and team. Vanderbilt chose Mabel Cummins, NCAA bowling’s Player of the Year and star senior scholar. Cummins stood in the front row during the program and afterwards spoke briefly with Vice President Harris.“To be invited to such an historic event, the first of its kind to bring NCAA champions to the White House, it’s a tremendous event and an accomplishment,” Cummins said afterward. “I was honored to represent our team, a once in a lifetime experience that I won’t be able to forget.”Among the Vanderbilt contingent, which included all 10 roster members, coaches John Williamson and Josie Barnes and other members of the bowling support staff, was Director of Athletics Candice Lee, who not only took in the White House festivities but joined the team Sunday evening for a pre-event dinner.The day made an impression on Lee.“I think today was especially meaningful and heartwarming because we spend so much time discussing the volatile landscape of college athletics and at times defending why it’s so powerful and transformational and today was a great reminder why,” Lee said. “I really applaud President Biden and Governor Baker for establishing College Athlete Day. What an amazing opportunity for Division I, II and III to come together as champions.“I think we spend too much time discussing how we are different and the reality is when you are out here and see all these amazing young people, you realize how much we are alike than we know and you also see the power of sports and how it brings people together. I appreciate the perspective because I think we need that more now than ever.”Monday’s program capped a whirlwind two days for the Commodores, who toured the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Sunday afternoon, enjoyed a multi-course dinner at one of Washington’s fine waterfront restaurants and later enjoyed and marveled at the famous monuments on a walking tour, lit up beautifully on this ideal June evening.The invitation was the second White House opportunity for the Vanderbilt program, who were invited in 2007 after winning the school’s first championship by President George W. Bush. There was no event after Vanderbilt won the 2018 NCAA title.