Tag Archives: UCLA Softball

Bruins Take DC!

Disclaimer: This is a blog about a personal experience, so don’t be looking for any opinions on anything 🙂

Back in April the UCLA Gymnastics team won the NCAA national championship and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that extraordinary team. It was, by far, the most rewarding experience of my 19 yearlong gymnastics career. It is impossible to adequately describe how unbelievable it feels to have the work, blood, sweat, tears, heart, trust, and soul of a team pay off in the end. My teammates and I were fortunate enough to be invited to Washington DC to meet the President at the White House along with the UCLA softball team who also won a national championship this year. This blog entry is my account of our day in DC, which can also be seen at UCLABruins.com:

We had a fun-filled PACKED day in Washington! This morning we had an amazing tour of Congress. We started off walking around the Capitol building and taking tons of pictures including the gymnasts taking a handstand picture (naturally) on the back steps which, was sweet! The softball girls were not down for a handstand picture… I don’t know why! Then we headed down into Congress where the first security guy’s nametag read: A. Taylor. Per usual, I got really excited and spastic. He was definitely not excited and proceeded to continue telling me the strict rules I was to follow once inside. The first stop on our tour was a 15-minute movie that showed the resilience of the American people and was incredibly historically inspiring. Then we met up with our tour guide, Rich, who took both our team and the softball team on a fascinating tour through the House of Representatives and the Senate. We got to see the original rooms for both houses as well as the rooms they use today. The detail in every room is unbelievable from the paintings down to the moldings. Fun fact: the current home for the House of Representatives has a monstrous dictionary near the front podium and the observation deck chairs are blue and gold.

After our morning tour we were taken back to the hotel to clean up a bit and get our stuff together to check out of the hotel. After loading all 50+ Bruins back on to the bus we were off on our last tour of DC. Our first stop: food. You can imagine how much goes into a pre-order for a party size that big! Everyone ended up with a full tummy and ready to adventure. Second stop: Jefferson Memorial. We were allowed to get off the bus and explore the memorial for about a half hour and, trust me, we took full advantage of it! Let me tell you, pictures galore. Next stop: Lincoln Memorial. We all loved the Lincoln Memorial because of the amazing view you get of our nation’s capital from the steps. The reflection pool, the Washington Monument in the distance, the Capitol… it was mesmerizing. We ran into the fencing student-athletes from Penn State at the Lincoln Memorial and we exchanged duties of photographing the other in front of Big Abe Lincoln. Finally, it was off to the White House!

We arrived pretty early so we hung out and chatted with some of the super friendly White House staff for a bit. The other teams started to filter in and we were instructed to line up in three lines to start our journey through security. We went through three ID checks, a metal detector, and a bout with a security wand. They were NOT messing around! Once on official White House grounds we hit a bit of a snag. Our international athletes were required to have a form of government issued identification… Marci has a California ID card. Aisha went back to get her passport from the bus. But unfortunately, Hoppy didn’t bring her passport and was not allowed inside the grounds. We were all SO upset. How were we supposed to go in without Hoppy?! Miss Val and Petrina tried their hardest to lobby for Hop, but they were no match for the Secret Service. There were dudes with guns that we were sure could take us down in .2 seconds everywhere (not to mention the super sniper on the roof of the White House), so we decided not to push it J After the unfortunate mix-up, we took a team picture in front of the White House and then were allowed to mingle with the other student-athletes on the front lawn. The NCAA men’s gymnastics champions were the Wolverines from the University of Michigan so a few of us got to see some gymnast friends that we hadn’t seen in forever which, was super fun. There were delicious cookies and, thankfully, some delicious lemonade, iced tea, and water. I’m telling ya’ll, it was hot and humid out there so the refreshments were greatly appreciated. We snapped another team picture on the front steps of the White House. It was so cool to have a bunch of other teams there with us! Coach I from the softball team was running around encouraging us to introduce ourselves to everybody, so of course I had to talk a little smack to the USC Men’s Water Polo Team because they barely edged out our boys for the championship, and duh, they’re from SC. I also gave the University of South Carolina Baseball (also, USC. Weird, huh?! I mean what IS it about “USCs” and the Bruins?!) team a hard time because they also just beat out the Bruins in the championship round of the College World Series. It was all in good fun, though, we enjoyed ribbing each other a little. We continued to snap and then, all of the sudden, the band started playing “We Are The Sons of Westwood,” and our entire party went nuts. Don’t worry we absolutely did a full out 8-clap right there on the White House lawn. It was SO amazing, totally gave me the goosebumps.

And then, Mr. President Barrack Obama himself appeared and strode to a podium set up next to the band. He warmly welcomed us and gave a several minute speech about what it means to be a student-athlete and congratulated the teams on their accomplishments. Following his speech he stepped off the podium towards the horde of student-athletes and the crowd surged forward… Like being in a dance club times 30. I was luckily enough to maneuver my way through people MUCH bigger than me (being low to the ground helps) and shake the President’s hand. He told me he liked gymnastics! I was STOKED! Several other girls on the team got the opportunity to shake his hand as well. Everyone had to wait to leave the grounds until Mr. President was back inside for obvious security reasons, and as we were walking out John Kerry popped up! Pretty cool.

We hit the pavement to the airport with our bus driver, Percy, for our red-eye flight back to LA with a bus full of happy, honored, and sleepy Bruins. Upon arrival at our gate, Niki graciously lent her Blackberry charger to one of the Boston College hockey guys and we met Edward Lawrence who is a TV reporter for CBS. (He took a picture with Miss Val and Chris and tweeted about hanging out with us!) We are now in pre-season training camp up in Tehachapi, CA… Watch out world, we are already working for that 2011 national championship!

It was an all-around extraordinary trip for everybody involved, and we decided that we were going to do everything we could to come back next year. We all really enjoyed getting to know the softball team better and sharing this experience with them. GO BRUINS!

Check out some pictures from the trip:

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