Members of the No. 1-ranked WVU rifle team will meet with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, November 17, to celebrate the team’s 2017 National Championship on NCAA Champions Day. This past March, the team won the NCAA Rifle Championship with an impressive record-breaking team score of 4723. Notably, two freshmen―Morgan Phillips and Milica Babic―won the individual smallbore and air rifle titles, respectively. Traveling with the team is former team captain Jean-Pierre Lucas, who is currently the assistant coach at Ole Miss.
Visits to the White House by sports champions are an American tradition, dating back to 1865 when President Andrew Johnson was visited by two amateur baseball teams, the Brooklyn Atlantics and the Washington Nationals. In modern times, about a dozen professional, national and collegiate teams get to visit the White House each year.
“We’re incredibly excited. This is a huge honor and a privilege to attend an event like this,” Coach Jon Hammond said. “This is a recognition of the team's success this past season and our win at the 2017 National Championship. A lot of people may only get this opportunity once in their lives, and our team gets to make its second trip in three years. We’re very excited.”
The WVU rifle team’s 2017 NCAA championship win was the program’s fifth straight and a nation’s best 19th overall. Previously, the team visited the White House in 2014 to celebrate their 2013 NCAA Championship victory.
“We are proud of our fifth straight rifle National Championship and 19th overall. Winning a National Championship as a student-athlete is a lifetime memory,” WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “Having NCAA Champions Day at the White House allows our program, and all of the champions from last year, to be recognized nationally for their outstanding accomplishment.”