WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart are frequent White House visitors who made a combined five trips here before their latest visit.
Still, President Joe Biden found a way to make Monday extra special.
After a 20-minute ceremony in the East Room to celebrate the team’s 2020 WNBA championship, the commander-in-chief went off script and asked the Storm if they would like a private tour, led by Biden, of the Oval Office.
Of course, they said yes.
“That wasn’t on the itinerary,” Bird said. “Look, everything was wonderful by the way. There were a lot of memorable moments, but once everybody was done speaking and they were finished taking our pictures at the podium, he was like ‘Hey do you guys want to check out the Oval Office?’
“And we were like, ‘Uhh, yeah.’ And he just took us straight there on a personal guided tour. He told us all about different meaningful pictures in the Oval Office and why certain presidents were on the wall. It was really cool.”
The unflappable Stewart, who was making her fourth trip to the White House, was impressed by the president’s digs.
“As long as I live, I’m going to remember that President Biden asked us if we wanted to go to the Oval Office,” she said. “It was amazing. I’ve been to the White House a couple of times, fortunately, and now to be able to see some new things, see the Oval Office and learn a little bit more about President Biden is an experience I’ll never forget.
“He didn’t have to do that. In fact, I’m sure that wasn’t on the schedule, so thank you Mr. President for that. There’s just so much history in that room, and he shared a little bit of it with us.”
Force4Change Initiative discussed
Storm players spoke with members of the White House Gender Policy Council and recorded messages of support for gender, racial and LGBTQ+ equality, voting rights and COVID-19 vaccination.
“We’re a league full of women,” Bird said. “Full of women of color, women who are members of the LGBTQ community. We have a player who just came out as trans recently. We are a diverse group, and those groups sadly in our country are marginalized more times than not.
“What President Biden and his administration has shown is that they’re not going to continue to allow that to happen. So, of course, we’re aligned with those things.”
Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder and Crystal Langhorne, the team’s director of community engagement, spoke with Biden about the team’s new Force4Change Initiative, a social-justice platform to assist marginalized communities.
“We just felt like this was a great opportunity with this platform that we have at the White House to amplify Force4Change,” said Langhorne, a 13-year WNBA veteran who spent seven seasons in Seattle and helped the Storm win WNBA championships in 2020 and 2018 before retiring this year. “We’re working with nonprofits and investing in organizations to amplify and give people a voice. Just using our platform to support different causes.”
Langhorne said Force4Change worked with community leaders this summer to invest $100,000 in the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.
She emphasized how Force4Change is helping amplify Black women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) youth and the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s about investing into communities that have been underserved and working with the organizations that have been leading the way in this space,” Langhorne said.
Stewart turned heads and drew lots of attention from photographers while wearing an outfit put together by Puma creative designer June Ambrose.
The 6-foot-4 WNBA superstar wore a gray sports coat and a matching full-length skirt by Ryota Sakai over a white shirt and gray Thom Browne pants.
And Stewart capped the look with a pair of white Puma sneakers, which made sense considering she signed a signature shoe deal with Puma in May.
“I love the look,” Stewart said standing outside the White House. “But quite frankly, I’m really hot in this sun.”