Beavers Enjoy Thanksgiving At White House With First Family
Nov. 22, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Oregon State men's basketball team enjoyed their Thanksgiving meal on Thursday like most people with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie. The only difference is the Beavers had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to eat at the White House with President Obama and the First Family.
What should be known by everyone now is that head coach Craig Robinson is the brother of First Lady Michelle Obama and the brother-in-law of President Obama. Since the Beavers were unable to schedule a game on the East Coast, like they have the past four years, the First Lady and Robinson made an arrangement for the team to continue the annual tradition of touring the White House.
However, this year provided something new that none of them had ever experienced.
"Each year when we play a game out here we are always in such a rush because we have to get to practice, get to shoot-around and get to the game," Robinson said. "To be able to come out here and get some quality time working hard on a service project and then actually having a meal at the White House was really special. It was really nice to share my Oregon State family with my real family and vice versa.
"I thought Beaver Nation should be really proud of how the guys handled themselves during the whole trip. They were extremely helpful on the service day. They were extremely gracious at the White House and very inquisitive. It just made me very proud to be their coach."
The student-athletes, coaches and support staff flew from Portland to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, and after a two-hour study hall at the hotel early Wednesday, they went to the Capital Area Food Bank to stuff bags with food for needy families. Their goal was to fill 1,000 bags but the group stayed for nearly three hours and knocked out more than 1,200.
President Obama and the First Family also helped fill bags and then took time to talk to the Beavers' basketball team and thank them for the job they did to support families in need.
After a quick tour of the White House on Thursday, including the opportunity to get some shots up on the official basketball court, everyone gathered on the main level to an impressive Thanksgiving spread that included brine-soaked, thyme-roasted turkey with gravy, cornbread stuffing, oyster stuffing, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and kale salad. Dessert featured six different kinds of pie including apple, huckleberry, cherry, banana cream, pumpkin and sweet potato with honey-meringue topping.
The players who had visited the White House before were just as excited as the first time they went and realized that the opportunity is like no other.
"I love volunteering so helping out at the food bank was very special to me," senior Joe Burton said. "The past two days in D.C. were a great blessing. The team loved it and I loved it. Seeing smiles on people's faces when they got the food bags from us, and seeing President Obama and the First Family was a great experience. Nobody else gets this opportunity like we do and we are all so thankful to be able to do it."
"The overall experience was great," junior Roberto Nelson said. "Every time we go to the White House you see something and learn something different about it. The trip is always cool and to see the guys who haven't been there to get a chance to go and meet the President for the first time. It brought back my old memories of when I went for the first time."
After the team posed for a photo with President Obama in the Oval Office, Nelson asked him if he would pick the Beavers when he fills out his NCAA Tournament bracket. The President quickly responded: "you have to make the tournament for me to pick you," which got a good laugh from everyone in the room.
"I wasn't expecting a response but it's good to have the President there and knowing that if we do make the NCAA Tournament that he'll be on our side," Nelson said.
Eight of the 15 players who made the trip (Angus Brandt stayed home because of his injured knee) were seeing the White House for the first time. They were juniors Michael Moyer, Jullian Powers and C.J. Mitchell, sophomore Daniel Gomis and freshmen Langston Morris-Walker, Jarmal Reid, Victor Robbins and Olaf Schaftenaar.
"It was great," Gomis said. "Getting to go all the way from Senegal to the White House, you don't get that every day. It was a great opportunity and I'm really thankful for that. I want to thank Coach Robinson and his family for the wonderful experience. I had a great time and I was just so happy to be there."
"It was a great experience and something I never thought I'd be doing when I'm only 18-years-old," Robbins said. "It was cool to find out Barack Obama is more down to earth than I thought he would be. We had plenty of conservations so it was all very exciting."
The Beavers (3-1) return to action on Sunday when they host Montana State (1-2) at 3 p.m. in the 3rd Annual Nike N7 Game presented by Spirit Mountain Casino at Gill Coliseum.
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