Seattle Storm visit White House

The 2020 WNBA Champions are the first professional women’s team to be honored at White House under the Biden Administration

SEATTLE — The Seattle Storm visited the White House Monday, becoming the first professional women’s sports team to be honored under President Joe Biden and the first WNBA to be celebrated at the White House since 2015.

The ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House with the team entering to a rendition of the Storm’s normal entrance music “Thunderstruck by AC/DC” played by the President’s Own Marine Band. The President then joined the team and kicked things off by offering up his congratulations for the team’s work both on and off the court.

“What makes this team remarkable is they don’t just win games, they change lives: 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,” President Biden said during his remarks.

“That’s what winners do,” he added. “They shine the light. They lift people up. They’re a force for change.  That’s the Seattle Storm.”

Seattle Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder followed President Biden:

“Playing while a pandemic raged through the world, sequestered in a tightly controlled environment, far from family, friends, and fans. No distractions from the business of basketball — except, of course, there was nothing but distraction,” Gilder said. “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.

“In fact, they did the dead-opposite,” she continued. “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. They channeled their emotion into action, establishing “Say Her Name” as the centerpiece of the entire season to fight for justice for Breonna Taylor, bolstering voter registration across the country, and altering the power balance in the U.S. Senate by helping to elect two new senators from the state of Georgia.

“Through their focused efforts, these leaders modeled how to respond in tough times and never, ever settle. They offered concrete reasons to hold on to hope, and they changed the future of our country. That’s not hyperbole. It’s also not hyperbole to say this championship team is a champion of champions,” Gilder concluded. “In Seattle, inspired and informed by our players, our franchise formalized its own history of advocacy by creating a social justice platform, Force4Change.”

Gilder then introduced Crystal Langhorne, a member of the 2020 WNBA Championship squad, now retired, who works in the Storm front office as the team’s Director of Community Engagement. Langhorne spoke about the team’s Force4Change social and racial justice platform.

“We are truly honored to be here for our achievements on the court, but I think I can speak for all of us from the Storm organization: We are extremely proud of who we are off the court,” said Langhorne. “Force4Change focuses on creating a more equitable society — on amplifying Black women, BIPOC youth, and the LGBTQ+ community. But it’s not just about amplifying; it’s about investing into communities that have been underserved and working with the organizations that have been leading the way in this space.”

She added: “Social justice cannot fade into the background. We have to continue to amplify, invest, and do whatever we can to be a force for change. Being the first women’s team to visit this administration — an administration that aligns with so many of our values — is such an honor.  So, thank you.”

Storm players Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd then presented the President with a custom “46 Biden” Storm jersey before the entire group took photos with the President. At the conclusion of the ceremony, President Biden spontaneously invited the team up to visit the Oval Office and explore other parts of the White House.

Prior to the event, the Storm players were treated to a special viewing of the East Wing of the White House, posing for pictures, being serenaded by a military string quartet, and learning more about the history of the executive mansion.