Even an occasion as special as a visit to the White House would not have been the same for the Baylor Lady Bears if their biggest fan hadn’t been able to enjoy the experience, too.
Thus, members of the Baylor women’s basketball team were excited to learn that 11-year-old Haley Klepper would accompany them in Washington, D.C., as President Barack Obama hosted the national champions at the White House on Wednesday.
Klepper, the daughter of longtime Baylor supporters, suffers from a rare disorder that has decreased her mobility and hearing. When head coach Kim Mulkey learned of the situation, she made Haley and her sister Hannah practically a part of the team. The sisters were given their own locker at the Ferrell Center, and throughout the Lady Bears’ 40-0 season the two spent time with the players at practices and before games. When the team won the national title, the players pulled Haley and Hannah up on stage to share the moment.
Thus, it seemed only right that the Kleppers would get to join the team for this honor, too — and Obama even noted as much in his short address. “Haley is as brave as can be and has gone through some struggles, but when the team found out about Haley … they immediately took her under their wing,” said the President. “We’re thrilled to have Haley here.”
President Obama also congratulated the Lady Bears on their successes both on the field and off, noting their GPAs and history of community service along with their undefeated record. “This team sets a terrific example for girls everywhere — as athletes, as scholars, as leaders in their community,” said Obama. “I could not be prouder of this team.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Lady Bears have visited the White House; the team was also invited back in 2005 after winning the program’s first national title. [See photos from that visit.]