WASHINGTON D.C.— Vanderbilt’s national champion bowling team joined 46 other NCAA championship teams Monday in the first ever “College Athlete Day”, hosted by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Douglas Emhoff and Charlie Baker, the former governor of Massachusetts and new president of the NCAA.
The theme of the morning from Baker and the Vice President was a reminder that they represented a half-million student-athletes from across the nation (520,000 to be more precise) that “made it to the top of the pile” in the words of Governor Baker. “Out of many, one.”
It was certainly an unforgettable day for the Vanderbilt program and team. One could see the excitement building among the Commodores as they made their way through two security checkpoints and onto the historic South Lawn. Time was given the teams to roam those grounds, getting keepsake photographs with the White House and other iconic views in the background.
These Commodores came from far and wide to be on hand. Some left jobs and internships, others left preparations for the upcoming weekend’s U.S. Open and Paige Peters, who had her wisdom teeth removed last Friday and still sported a swollen jaw to prove it, arrived by Amtrak from New Jersey as she was advised not to fly. Nobody regretted their effort to attend, it was a day for celebration, not politics.
Each team chose one representative to go on stage and represent their school and team. Vanderbilt chose Mabel Cummins, NCAA bowling’s Player of the Year and star senior scholar. Cummins stood in the front row during the program and afterwards spoke briefly with Vice President Harris.
“To be invited to such an historic event, the first of its kind to bring NCAA champions to the White House, it’s a tremendous event and an accomplishment,” Cummins said afterward. “I was honored to represent our team, a once in a lifetime experience that I won’t be able to forget.”
Among the Vanderbilt contingent, which included all 10 roster members, coaches John Williamson and Josie Barnes and other members of the bowling support staff, was Director of Athletics Candice Lee, who not only took in the White House festivities but joined the team Sunday evening for a pre-event dinner.
The day made an impression on Lee.
“I think today was especially meaningful and heartwarming because we spend so much time discussing the volatile landscape of college athletics and at times defending why it’s so…