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WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama honored student-athletes from across the NCAA on Monday (Sept. 13) at the White House, including members of Virginia’s NCAA Champion men’s soccer and rowing teams.

“Today surpassed anything I had in mind for what was going to happen,” Virginia rowing head coach Kevin Sauer said. “It was an amazing experience.”

The President welcomed student-athletes from dozens of schools and various sports to congratulate them on their accomplishments in the classroom as well as on and off the playing field.

“It was an honor to be in the company of so many NCAA Champions at the White House,” UVa men’s soccer head coach George Gelnovatch said. “I know our teams will remember this day forever.”

The day also included a tour of the U.S. Capitol before the Cavaliers headed to the reception on the South Lawn of the White House.

During his remarks, President Obama said: “Now, that term, student-athlete, is the thing that makes me so proud to stand before you here today, because when each of you won the titles that you won – whether it was in lacrosse or gymnastics or wheelchair basketball – you didn’t do it as professionals. You woke up early; you put in countless hours of practice for the love of the game and for the pride of your school. You rode those buses and you carried those bags because you knew what it was going to take to be the best – and because every one of you has a competitive streak that’s about a mile wide. And most impressive of all, you did this while shouldering a full load of classes – sometimes grabbing a few minutes to study in airports or locker rooms – because you understand that student-athlete emphasizes student and not just athlete.”

After his remarks concluded, the President shook as many hands and had as many conversations as time would allow.

“It’s great that the President recognized these student-athletes for all of the special things they do beyond their athletics achievements,” said NCAA interim president Jim Isch, who attended the event. “The young people at this event were the epitome of student-athletes, achieving in the classroom in addition to excelling in their respective sport.”

The Virginia men’s soccer team captured its sixth NCAA Championship, and first since 1994, with a 3-2 penalty kick shootout win over Akron on Dec. 13, 2009 in Cary, N.C.

The Virginia rowing team captured the 2010 NCAA Championship on May 31, 2010, at Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. Virginia’s 87 points in the team standings gave it a first-place finish ahead of California (82 points) and Princeton (76 points).

Virginia has won 20 team National Championships in school history.

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