Women's World Cup Champions Reception
Remarks by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
The White House
July 19, 1999
We are so pleased to have such a wonderful turnout. I want to join the Presidentand,
I know, all of youin expressing how much our thoughts and prayers are
with the Kennedy and the Bessette families at this extraordinarily painful time.
I also want to join with all of you in welcoming the United States Women's
World Cup soccer champions to the White House. We are so pleased to have them.
Welcome and congratulations to our girls of summer. Not only have
they captured our imaginations, they've definitely stolen our hearts. And
by creating the largest women's sporting event in history, they have exploded
the mythonce and for allthat women's sports can't attract
fans and public attention. And it is about time that that has happened.
I want to welcome our Cabinet officials who are here. And I want to say a special
word of welcome and thanks to Secretary Donna Shalala, who has been the stalwart
leading the Administration forward on girl power, and one of the
greatest fans that women's soccer and this team have had. I also want to
thank all the members of Congress who are here. I see a big crowd and I think
everyone from every state represented by the team behind me and all the others
are here. And I also am pleased that there are so many young people from soccer
teams of both boys' and girls' clubs, as well as schools, from across
the city. They are our future champions and they now have a bunch of superstars
to look up to, and we're delighted to have them here.
The President has already said how thrilling it was for he and Chelsea and
I to attend the game against Germany here in Washington, and how jealous Chelsea
and I were that his schedule permitted him to get to the Rose Bowl. But we were,
along with millions of Americans and fans around the world, just extraordinarily
moved and excited. And I couldn't help thinkingas I can imagine many
of the women in this audience, including my dear friend Tipper Gorecouldn't
help thinking how times have changed.
Tipper was a great athlete in her time. Their three daughters are great athletes.
I was a mediocre one at best. But I can still remember when we had to play half
court basketball. I can remember when there were not many interscholastic team
opportunities for girls. I can remember when we had to buy our own uniforms,
such as they were. You know, the last softball team I played on, much to my
embarrassment, was called the Good and Plenties, because it was
sponsored by the local candy distributor and we had to wear pink socks, black
shorts, and white shirts.
But so much has changed. Back in l985 this team had to sew the letters USA on
their team jerseys themselves. But look at what has happened in a very few years.
We've learned a lot about women and what women can do to compete and to
win, and to carry their country's feelings and emotions into the arena
This World Cup was not only about this team's fierce determination overcoming
injuries, illness, and fatigue day after day. It was not only about teamwork
and solidarity, including supporting each other on and off the fieldsuch
as baby-sitting for each other's children. It was really about changing
the rules once and for all. I particularly like the idea in my mind of the contrast
between preparing for a championship team, as my brothers and a lot of the men
in sports I have knownyou know, eating a lot of steak and getting geared
up. And what I heard this team didputting on their favorite dancing CD,
singing at the top of their lungs, and painting each other's fingernails.
In addition, they have volunteered to be with each other through thick and through
thin, including getting two fillings if that was necessary.
But what we're really proud of today is how they have represented our
country and the way they have really represented the faith that so many of us
put into the idea behind Title IX: to open the gates of opportunity for athletic
involvement to women. And we now have women at the intercollegiate level playing
in every sport you can imagine, and a generation of women athletes who are now
able to compete just as their fathers and brothers did.
The history of America is the history of people who have stepped beyond the
lines that have been drawn for them, who have refused to limit their dreams,
who have faced the naysayers and said, Yes. I can do this.
Who would have imagined that these young women would be here today on the very
day we are celebrating so much in our nation's historythe first walk
of a human being on the moon, and tonight, Lt. Colonel Eileen Collins will become
the first woman in history to become a commander of a space shuttle. I'm
delighted that the team will be flying down with me so that we can be at Cape
Canaveral together to cheer Lt. Colonel Collins on.
Now today, though, we not only honor this past victory, we honor the future.
And I want to introduce someone to you who is already breaking through even
more lines and crossing them with great aplomb. She's part of a program
called D.C. Scores, which helps kids achieve on the soccer field and in the
classroom. She's not only the leading scorer on her soccer team, she's
a champion essayist as well. Let's welcome 6th grader Stefaney Howell from
here in Washington, D.C.