Remarks by the President Honoring the U.S. National Women's Soccer Team
11:27 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, welcome to the White House, everybody. And, Ayla, thank you for that introduction. You did a great job. I know your dad is incredibly proud of you. I don’t know where your brother is right now. (Laughter.) But this is some payback right here. (Laughter.) You just had a national audience -- (applause) -- you just had a national audience just letting him know what’s what. Because a lot of people agree with you, and nothing gives me more hope than knowing that we’ve got a whole generation of young women like Ayla ready to take the world by storm.
Speaking of women who took the world by storm -– give it up for the World Champion, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team! (Applause.) Hey! I was really excited about this today. I go to a lot of meetings -- (laughter) -- and most of them aren’t that interesting. And so to see this team that sparked the imagination of people all across the country and around the world is just wonderful.
I want to recognize a lot of people who made these incredibly talented women -- put them in a position to be able to showcase their talent so effectively. First of all, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. Please give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) Your outstanding coach, Jill Ellis. (Applause.) Coach Ellis, I very much appreciate you allowing them to come to the White House during your victory tour. They’ve been playing a lot of “friendly” matches across the country –- although by the looks of the scores, they’re not that friendly. (Laughter.) These folks are kind of competitive.
Now, my first order of business is to congratulate our newlywed, Sydney Leroux. Sydney. (Applause.) Yay! Is that the newlywed wave?
MS. LEROUX: Presidential wave.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, it’s the presidential wave, okay. So Syd got hitched a couple weeks ago, and just about the whole team showed up. I also hear that she’s got a Chihuahua with 10,000 Twitter followers -- (laughter) -- which makes me thankful that Bo and Sunny don’t have their own accounts, because I don’t need them trolling me from my own house. (Laughter.) But that’s an aside.
It’s been a busy few months for the team. Since winning the World Cup in July, they’ve graced the covers of magazines and video games, and apparently even corn mazes. Now, this is a true story. A farmer in California built a corn maze in the shape of Megan Rapinoe’s face. (Laughter.) I mean, I thought I was cool a few years ago when somebody made a bust out of me out of butter. But Megan has got an entire cornfield.
But these champions deserve all the attention that they’ve been getting. After 16 long years, too many heartbreaks, they flew north to put America back on top of the soccer world. And they did it in style. It was a victory that took all 23 players. It took Christie Rampone’s leadership, Alex Morgan’s playmaking, Heather O’Reilly’s game face. (Laughter.) It took Becky Sauerbrunn’s quiet dominance. And Abby Wambach’s not-so-quiet -- (laughter) -- dominance. Abby said that she wanted her final World Cup to be like a fairytale. And I’m not sure she could have written a better ending: a world champion at last, draped in the Stars and Stripes, showing us all how far we’ve come -– on and off the field –- by sharing a celebratory kiss with her wife.
And of course, this victory required Carli Lloyd. Now, Carli is no stranger to clutch performances; scored game-winners in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Gold Medal matches. So this year’s final against Japan, she did it even better, scoring three goals in the first 16 minutes. Now, I have to say, first of all, I was explaining to the team and Carli that I had gotten my popcorn, I was all settling in. (Laughter.) I’m thinking I’ve got a couple hours of tension and excitement -- and poof, it was gone. (Laughter.) It was over.
And afterward, Carli was asked if she ever thought that she would score three goals in a World Cup Final. No, she said, “I dreamed of scoring four.” (Laughter.) She does have an attitude. You can just see it. (Laughter and applause.) She’s not lacking in confidence. (Applause.) Although I do think that rocket from midfield, that's a two-pointer. (Laughter.) So it was almost like four.
And Carli’s performance was so good that by the time the game was over, someone had changed her title on Wikipedia from “Midfielder” to “President of the United States.” (Laughter.) Which, by the way, the job is about to open up. (Laughter.) What’s another candidate in the mix? (Laughter.)
I guarantee you Carli knows more about being President than some of the folks who are running. (Laughter.) But that's a whole other -- (applause) -- that's a whole other topic of conversation.
Now, while Carli’s performance put an exclamation point on a historic run, this victory was about more than just soccer. It was about dominance and skill and about inspiring our whole country. About a month before the World Cup kicked off, these players launched #SheBelieves initiative, encouraging young fans all across the country to believe in themselves.
And whether it was through the campaign -- through that campaign or on the field, they’ve inspired millions of girls to dream bigger, and by the way, inspired millions of boys to look at girls differently, which is just as important. (Applause.)
Sasha had a chance to go with one of her best friends, Maisy, Joe’s granddaughter, to the game live. But others were following it all across the country. There were girls like the young player in Florida who told Sydney, “I look like you. And I want to be just like you.” Girls like Ayla who too often heard that they weren’t somehow supposed to be as good at sports as boys. And Ayla got mad, and she should be mad with those attitudes.
This team taught all America’s children that “playing like a girl” means you're a badass. (Laughter and applause.) Perhaps I shouldn’t have used that phrase. (Laughter.) Playing like a girl means being the best. It means drawing the largest TV audience for a soccer match –- men or women’s –- in American history. It means wearing our nation’s crest on your jersey, taking yourself and your country to the top of the world. That’s what American women do. That's what American girls do. That’s why we celebrate this team. They’ve done it with class. They’ve done it with the right way. They’ve done it with excitement. They’ve done with style. We are very, very proud of them.
So once again, on behalf of all Americans, congratulations. We couldn’t be prouder of you. Let’s go bring home the gold in Rio. Thank you. (Applause.)
11:37 A.M. EDT