Queens University’s men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams, as well as Stanford’s women’s water polo team, are among the group of NCAA champions scheduled to make an appearance at the White House Friday.
Update: Cal men’s swimming — which won the 2019 NCAA title — is also making the trip, SwimSwam has confirmed.
The Stanford women won the NCAA women’s water polo championship in May of this year, while Queens is the five-time defending NCAA Division II champion in swimming and diving. While Queens also won in 2019, it is actually the 2017-18 championship squad that will attend – No. 4 in that run of five.
Their visit is part of the second edition of “NCAA Champions Day,” in which multiple championship programs from the past two years will be honored. Winners of the Division I NCAA football and men’s basketball titles typically visit by themselves following their respective wins, so this day is meant to honor other teams.
As part of the visit, the teams are expected to meet with President Donald Trump, according to an announcement from USA Wrestling. White House visits have been a controversial subject in both collegiate and professional sports since Trump took office. A number of professional championship-winning squads have opted not to visit after a title run — including the Golden State Warriors in 2017 — while others have left it up to individual players to make their own decisions, as was the case with the Washington Nationals last month.
The Warriors drew ire from the president in 2017, resulting in a public disinviting of star Stephen Curry, while the Nationals made headlines when catcher Kurt Suzuki donned a “Make America Great Again” hat as multiple players embraced and praised Trump.
Stanford women’s water polo released a statement on Twitter Thursday saying it would ultimately leave the decision to visit Congress and the White House up to players.
“We are excited to be on our way to Washington as the nation’s champs visiting the nation’s capital, a privilege earned, as a team, this past May when we won the NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship. But winning NCAA’s did not automatically warrant a visit: this group will be the first of our seven championship teams to go to D.C. Similar to the buildup for our summer trip to China, this visit is about learning and growing, focusing on academic preparation, to which each of us has contributed prior to departure. In keeping with our principles of Team First and Integration, we will do full team activities to learn from and engage with the city and its residents and our nation’s history and government institutions. And because Stanford women’s water polo is all about crafting and strengthening group alignment while acknowledging and embracing divergent viewpoints, we will honor the wishes of individuals as to whether they participate in visits to Congress and the White House.”
Queens — the only Division II team that will attend — also released a statement on the visit, saying 22 current swimmers and alumni will make the trip. The program did not address whether anyone is choosing not to go.
“We are proud of these young women and men for what they have accomplished. It is an unprecedented achievement, especially considering the Queens swim program was launched in 2010 and our swimmers did not have their own pool until 2013. We are thankful for the outstanding leadership and vision of our head coach Jeff Dugdale, and congratulate our swimmers and coaches for earning this honor,” Queens Athletic director Cherie Swarthout said.
“I am very thankful for this honor because our University is clear that we are in the business of people and experiences and this is another experience amongest the many experiences they have been afforded. We look forward to representing our university, our program, and ourselves on this special occasion,” head coach Jeff Dugdale said.
Among the other teams to attend will be Oregon State’s 2018 College World Series champion baseball team; Penn State’s 2019 NCAA champion wrestling team as well as individual wrestling champions from Rutgers, Cornell, Virginia Tech and Northern Iowa; and seniors from Wisconsin’s 2019 NCAA champion women’s hockey team.
In 2017, eighteen teams from “several” sports made the trip for NCAA Champions Day, according to The New York Times. Multiple teams presented President Trump with personalized gifts that year, including custom jerseys representing their teams.