President Joe Biden has formally invited the Seattle Storm to the White House to commemorate the franchise’s 2020 WNBA championship, White House officials confirmed to The Seattle Times.
During a South Lawn ceremony that’s schedule to begin at 12:30 p.m. ET Monday, Storm players, coaches, the team’s ownership group and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert will meet with President Biden and first lady Jill Biden.
Last October, the Storm completed an undefeated romp through the postseason with a 3-0 sweep over the Las Vegas Aces in the best-of-five WNBA Finals to win the league title.
It was the culmination of a historic season shortened to just 22 regular-season games played entirely at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was also a WNBA record-tying fourth league championship for the Storm, which won titles in 2004, 2010 and 2018.
The Storm last visited the White House in 2011.
“It is an incredible honor to be invited,” Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder said. “It’s been 10 years since we’ve been to the White House, but it’s not been 10 years since our last two championships. To get to go and be honored by the President and Dr. Biden is amazing.
“You know how hard last year was, but not just because of the pandemic but because of the movement for social change that really swept through the country and the entire league and the players’ decision to focus on generating social change. So for this group of women to have actually won the championship under those conditions, it’s always a challenge, but it was really an extraordinary challenge. So this group of athletes and leaders really deserves some recognition and it couldn’t be coming from a better administration, one who is really embracing the value structure that our athletes – not just our Storm athletes – but our WNBA athletes represent.”
Professional sports teams were frequently invited to the White House during the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations. The bipartisan tradition of team sports champions visiting the president mostly took a pause the previous four years during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The previous three WNBA champions, the Minnesota Lynx (2017), the Storm (2018) and Washington Mystics (2019), either declined or were not extended White House invitations.
“There’s an excitement about it,” Storm guard Sue Bird said in 2018. “You’re going to the White House. I remember first walking in to meet President Obama and it’s like — just the aura — it’s insane.
“And now it’s, that’s not what the feeling is anymore. It doesn’t feel exciting. Nobody wants to go. It’s totally changed and that’s disappointing because it used to be something that most athletes looked forward to.”
Last year, the Storm endorsed Biden during the presidential campaign, which was a rare move for a professional sports team.
“We don’t typically endorse candidates, but these are NOT typical times,” Gilder said at the time.