The Seattle Storm are heading to the White House.
For the first time since 2016, a WNBA champion will make the ceremonial visit as the Storm are the first women's team invited under President Joe Biden. Women's championship teams were often not invited under the previous presidency.
The Storm, which won its record-tying fourth title in October 2020, will make the stop on Monday while on their East Coast road trip. The president plans to honor the championship as well as the social justice work the team did and continues to do off the court as part of its Force4Change Initiative.
Storm to visit White House on Monday
The Storm formally announced the details of the visit on Friday. They will meet with the president and First Lady Jill Biden in a ceremony beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET at the White House South Lawn. The Storm ownership group, which took the unprecedented step of endorsing Biden last year, will attend as will WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) August 19, 2021
The president will also honor the social justice work the Storm players have taken on in recent years. Crystal Langhorne, a member of the 2020 championship team and now director of community engagement, will speak to the Force4Change initiative and how the franchise will continue its work in Seattle and the country.
Storm players will also speak with members of the White House Gender Policy Council ahead of the ceremony and record messages of support for gender, racial and LGBTQ+ equality, voting rights and pro-vaccination, per the release.
Change in times for sports White House visits
The Storm did not visit the White House after their 2018 championship. The team made it clear they were not interested in visiting the White House, but it had become a trend that many women's teams were not invited at all.
Sports teams were usually invited to a ceremony the season following a championship while playing in Washington and it was a bipartisan tradition. That ceased during the last presidency.
“I think for a very long time, up until 2016, going to the White House was an honor. It wasn’t necessarily political. It was to meet the president of the United States. The person who holds that office acknowledging your team’s success,” Seattle guard Sue Bird said, via the Associated Press. “It was an incredible honor. Even when you watch a movie like ‘Forrest Gump,’ I’m dating myself a little bit, you understand in that movie what an incredible honor it was. It wasn’t political. I think that all shifted in 2016.”
The Baylor women's basketball team was an exception and accepted an invite after winning the 2019 national title.
The 2015 Minnesota Lynx were the last WNBA team to visit, doing so in June 2016 with President Barack Obama. The 2017 Lynx squad that won the franchise's fourth title that autumn was not invited. The 2019 Washington Mystics were not invited, and point guard Natasha Cloud has called for a make-up visit.
Storm lose ground in league standings
The Storm have a rematch in New York on Friday against the Liberty, which won Wednesday night's game. Seattle (16-7) fell to third in league standings behind the Connecticut Sun (17-6) and Las Vegas Aces (17-6). Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart look to be back in the lineup for Friday after taking some rest days based on the team's injury report.
They will play at the Washington Mystics on Sunday ahead of the White House visit and travel to play the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday.
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