[Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 49 (Wednesday, April 6, 2011)]
[Pages S2184-S2186]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, something happened last night, and I 
feel compelled to say on the floor of the Senate that I am very proud 
of the Texas Aggies women who won the NCAA national basketball 
  It is so important, I want to say a couple of words about that, 
because this is the first national championship that the Lady Aggies 
have ever won. It was a great game last night. I certainly congratulate 
the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as well. But the Texas Aggies played with 
spirit. They came from behind at the half, and 76 to 70, they defeated 
Notre Dame.
  I congratulate the Texas Aggie ladies, but I also want to say that 
Texas A&M's coach, Gary Blair, became the oldest coach to ever win a 
national women's championship. He has turned the Lady Aggies basketball 
team into this national championship team.
  I mention Danielle Adams. Her All American performance last night was 
incredible. It is a great day. I am a Texas Longhorn, and most days I 
am for all of our Texas teams, and I love to say ``Gig `Em Aggies.'' 
There is one day that I cannot say that. That is Thanksgiving Day. But 
364 days a year, I am all for the Aggies when they are playing. And 
when they played like they did last night in any sport, all America 
should recognize it.
  With that, I wish to say that my colleague Senator Cornyn and I are 
going to ask unanimous consent to offer a resolution congratulating the 
Lady Aggies of Texas A&M on winning the 2011 National Collegiate 
Athletic Association women's basketball championship.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, congratulations to the Texas A&M Women's 
Basketball team for their NCAA Women's Division I Basketball 
Championship victory against Notre Dame. The game was an exciting and 
hard fought victory, and a fitting end to a championship season.

[[Page S2185]]

  Thanks to the Aggies's hard work, determination and tireless work 
ethic, they have finished out the 2010-2011 season with a strong 33-5 
record, second place finish in the Big 12 Conference and a National 
Championship title.
  I salute head coach Gary Blair for coaching the Aggies to their first 
NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship after 38 years of 
helping young women compete and reach their full potential. Associate 
head coaches Vic Schaefer and Kelly Bond, and assistant coach Johnnie 
Harris also worked to lead the team to this fine achievement. And the 
Lady Aggies's success would be incomplete without great athletes such 
as MVP and All-American, Danielle Adams and her teammates: Kelsey 
Assarian, Maryann Baker, Kristi Bellock, Kelsey Bone, Sydney Carter, 
Skylar Collins, Sydney Colson, Adaora Elonu, Karla Gilbert, Kristen 
Grant, Adrienne Pratcher, Catherine Snow, Tyra White, and Cierra 
  Today, it is my honor to join with the entire Texas A&M University 
family and the State of Texas to honor the Aggies. This team has 
learned what it takes to become national leaders. The experience that 
each of these athletes has gained in this endeavor is invaluable, and 
it will surely lead to future success in life.
  The following article written by Dawn Lee Wakefield for the 
Examiner.com describes Coach Blair's and the Aggies's persistent and 
positive approach to the game and this exciting championship series:

      [From the Texas A&M University Arts Examiner, Apr. 6, 2011]

   Texas A&M Women's Basketball, NCAA Champions Win It for the Aggie 

                        (By Dawn Lee Wakefield)

       Bryan-College Station.--Texas A&M University sports fans 
     around the world celebrated another important first tonight, 
     their very first NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. For 
     almost as long as TAMU Women have been competing in NCAA 
     athletic competition, the road has been long, and the ability 
     to gain respect for the team has been tough. A real 
     battleground in fact. Even as recently as four months ago, 
     you couldn't get a crowd into Reed Arena to see the Lady 
     Aggies play basketball. But that all changed tonight, in 40 
     short minutes of play, in the heart of Indianapolis, Indiana, 
     seen around the world on ESPN.
       On-campus support for TAMU Athletic teams, by the Aggie 
     student body is legendary, for that trademarked 12th Man 
     Spirit. Even more in the forefront of all sports is the 12th 
     Man Foundation (formerly the Aggie Club), whose mission it is 
     to garner funds and endowments by which to support Texas A&M 
     Athletics. And yet, it was not all that long ago that a few 
     hundred stalwart fans would arrive at Reed Arena (there was 
     no charge to park as in men's games, because they really 
     didn't expect much of a crowd), that Coach Blair himself 
     would walk up and down the steps of Reed Arena, carrying bags 
     of candy, tossing them to fans and thanking them for coming.
       Never one to be subtle, Coach Blair would work the crowd by 
     saying, ``bring a friend next time, bring two friends; let's 
     fill this place!'' After each game, the Lady Aggies didn't 
     head to the locker rooms to rest after a hard-fought game 
     right away. Instead, they would come up into the stands and 
     thank people for coming. Week after week, game by game, it 
     simply mystified the Aggie faithful in attendance as to 
     ``what are they thinking'' about why the TAMU Athletic Ticket 
     office wasn't being pushed for ticket sales. Every game the 
     Lady Aggies gained style, grace, accuracy, and stature and 
     yet, the only crowds of Aggies lined up to camp out for 
     ticket-pulls for student tickets were for the men's games.
       They didn't know what they were missing, the ones who 
     weren't there. They were missing the faithful Aggie Yell 
     Leaders leading the crowd, the Hullaballoo band doing a 
     rendition of ``Sweet Caroline'' that would make Neil Diamond 
     proud, and the crowd responding, ``Aggies Ball!'' every time 
     PA announcer Mark Edwards would identify ball possession for 
     the team. Mike Wright and Tap Bentz, with their radio play-
     by-play, kept those in touch who couldn't get there in 
     person, and local TV KBTX did their best to show highlights. 
     And yet, the second deck of Reed was filled only once, when 
     Baylor came calling. With a solid loss at the hands of the 
     Greiner-Mulkey-driven offense, those who'd come to see the 
     game left, and some didn't come back. That didn't faze the 
     Lady Aggies or the coaching staff.
       As part of Coach Blair's and Coach Schaefer's mandate, the 
     Lady Aggies participate in a multitude of community charity 
     events. One night last October, the starting players and 
     waiting-in-line players crowded into a Double Dave's to 
     participate in a pepperoni-roll making contest against the 
     men's team, and then stayed to visit with the crowd, thank 
     them for coming out to support them, by contributing to 
     United Way, and once again, they went home to study. They're 
     some of the hardest-working kids in town, and yet the words 
     ``national champions'' were never spoken, or expected by 
     those who loved them `anyway'.
       It is surreal to some to think that, the newly crowned 
     national champions, Texas Aggie Women's Basketball, has for 
     years remained the best kept secret on campus. Until tonight.
       Throughout the NCAA championship series, the Lady Aggie 
     basketball team overcame naysayers, doubters, and brutal 
     physical competition in the most exciting display of Aggie 
     spirit shown in years. They did it by creating a sense of 
     family, with whomever embraced their love of basketball, the 
     coaching staff, and Texas A&M University. Never was the 
     spirit of Aggieland greater than after each game, seeing 
     President Loftin (easily recognizable in his signature bow 
     tie) in the middle of a long line of Aggies, ``sawing 
     varsity's horns off'' as they sang the Texas Aggie fight song 
     after each victory. Local business sponsors paid countless 
     thousands of dollars to create ``jewelry cam'', ``kiss cam'', 
     ``know your Aggie players--what's on their iPod'', ``the 
     berney cam'' and flying blimps to make each game an event, an 
     exciting event, and share the love of family Aggie basketball 
       The prelude to the national championship was nothing short 
     of high-octane spectacular. Almost 500 Aggie fans waited in 
     the basement of Reed Arena in the Aggie practice room 3 weeks 
     ago, to find out what the NCAA draw would be, and where they 
     were to begin their journey to the Sweet Sixteen. When the 
     announcement came on ESPN, ``Shreveport'', the cheers were 
     deafening as Aggie fans knew they were within driving 
     distance to watch the first, and hopefully second, round of 
     play as the bracket opened, and the race was on, the only 
     goal at the time, to make the Sweet 16, out of the Superb 64.
       Just being in the NCAA championship was enough, almost, for 
     most Aggie fans. It was an unprecedented thrill to think that 
     this year's team had the perfect combination of talent, 
     strategy, coaching staff, and the hearts and minds of players 
     who refused to let go of one goal, and one goal only: 
     Victory. Getting that W. The girls studied in buses, on 
     planes, at 2 a.m. when the rest of Aggieland was fast asleep. 
     The Lady Aggies knew how important it was to stay true to the 
     title ``student-athletes''.
       On March 20th in Shreveport, the CenturyTel Center still 
     had plenty of room in the stands for Aggie fans, but the 
     faithful alumni, friends, and fans of the Lady Aggies made 
     the pilgrimage with joy and great expectation to watch them 
     defeat McNeese State by the score of 87 to 47. The crowd 
     reaction was joyful, and yet people were just thrilled to be 
     there, not thinking much about the next game to come against 
     Rutgers. When the Lady Aggies made short work of Rutgers with 
     a score of 70 to 48, the Aggie family was again surprised, if 
     not thrilled, to be going to the Sweet 16, at last.
       Advancing to the NCAA 3rd round on March 27th, again, Aggie 
     fans picked up numbers, if not their speed, as they gassed up 
     their cars and planes for the short hop to Dallas, to the 
     American Airlines center to watch their team face Georgia's 
     Lady Bulldogs. Georgia was at first an `unknown quantity with 
     potential and power,' but the Lady Aggies came to play, 
     making short work of their solid opponent, 79 to 38, in a 
     game that looked much like a 3-point shooting clinic. The 
     work of the Big D, defense, proved to be a powerful force 
     meeting an immovable object.
       Not only was Tuesday, March 29th the occasion of the 4th 
     round of the NCAA finals, that Elite 8 night, it marked the 
     4th matchup between Texas A&M and the highly advertised 
     Baylor Bears. Three times, the Aggies had met them; three 
     times they had fallen, as hard as Kim Mulkey's snakeskin 
     jacket hit the ground in disgust one night when she didn't 
     like the referee calls.
       Although 11,000+ fans crowded into Dallas' American 
     Airlines Center to watch ``The 4th time's (hopefully) a 
     Charm'' matchup, the gold and green far outweighed the maroon 
     and white in the seats. And yet, the Aggies gathered, the 
     faithful, were loud, proud, and the happiest people in the 
     state of Texas with a victory that was hard fought, in a 
     night where the Lady Aggies refused, again, to give in to 
     negative expectations. Instead, they focused mentally on the 
     ``+'' sign that Coach Blair draws on the back of his left 
     hand, self-created to remind him to stay positive throughout 
     the game.
       ``They're kids, 18-22, and this is just a game'' as he 
     announced as a reminder to all that sports were about 
     sportsmen and sportswomen, in the spirit of competition. 
     Lessons well taught. Lessons well learned. Every after-game 
     interview, you'd hear one word above the rest. ``TEAM''. No 
     stars, even among the player of the game. It was ``my team, 
     our team, this team''. The class possessed by the Lady Aggies 
     spoke for itself, loud and clear.
       The chant went up, ``Final Four, Final Four'' after the 
     Lady Aggies stunned Baylor, 58 to 46. The Aggie faithful 
     didn't want to leave the American Airlines center as they 
     stood and swayed to the Aggie war hymn, and watched each 
     member of the team, the yell leaders, Lady Aggie Dance Team, 
     Hullaballoo band, staff, and the sports announcers each cut 
     down a piece of the winning game net. Coach Blair thanked 
     everyone for coming and encouraged people who could to make 
     that trip to Indianapolis to root on their team in the Final 
       Outside the arena in the hallways of the American Airlines 
     center, Aggie faithful

[[Page S2186]]

     made new friends among those who'd lingered to absorb the joy 
     of the Elite Eight to Final Four pathway. With tears in their 
     eyes and joy shining from their countenance, three women 
     introduced themselves to the BCS fans, saying ``that's our 
     Coach, that's our Coach'' about Blair. Turns out they'd been 
     his players at South Oak Cliff High School. And, true to 
     form, Coach Blair had mentioned each and every team he'd been 
     a part of in his thank-you speech following the game. A man 
     who's never forgotten who brung him to the dance, was now 
     ``going to the dance'' in Indianapolis.
       Though the distance was longer, those who could afford the 
     charter planes, the buses, or the time and gas to drive made 
     their plans to attend the Final Four in Indianapolis. The 
     Final Four was in store, and all eyes were only on the prize 
     of eliminating the Stanford Cardinal. No other goal was 
     announced. Stanford was considered in the same light as the 
     Aggies. A number 2 seed. Overlooked. Relegated to the 
     category of ``nice, but not a contender''.
       How wrong the rankings can be in predicting who is the 
     champion of the day. The oft-used expression, ``any given 
     day'' was never more true than when the Lady Aggies went back 
     to work, and walked out of Conseco Field House with a 63 to 
     62 win, thanks to Sydney Colson's pass to Tyra White for the 
     layup, and 39 minutes and 45 seconds of defense, defense, 
     defense, and the hot shooting arms of every player who made 
     their play a key' play. Fans were stunned. It seemed too good 
     to be true.
       The Championship game was in sight, and the Championship 
     title was at stake. Could it be, that same team, who 16 short 
     weeks ago couldn't find a crowd had emerged as a national 
     powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with, was now the darling 
     of ESPN up-close interviews, sound bytes by Blair, and the 
     contemplation of Vic Schaefer's `drawing board' where he'd 
     drive that defense to excellence each and every game of the 
     way. Blair and Schaefer, together with Associate Head Coach 
     Kelly Bond and Assistant Head Coach, Johnnie Harris, are not 
     to be overlooked. Team. Family. United. Aggies. Spirit 
     personified filled each player with a sense of family such 
     that even the motto printed on the tickets at the beginning 
     of the season read, ``This is Home''.
       So, tonight, as Texas A&M set out to prove their worth 
     outside the walls of their hometown, they were taking on a 
     first-class team with a second-tier rating in Notre Dame. It 
     was the Fighting Texas Aggies vs. the Fighting Irish. How 
     appropriate. For 40 minutes of regulation play, all these 
     players did was fight, not against each other as much as 
     against misperceptions, being overlooked, disregarded, and 
     essentially underappreciated as the true champions each team 
     came to be realized before the game started.
       Aggie fans throughout the Brazos Valley jammed the 
     restaurants, bars, and homes of their friends, anywhere there 
     was a TV powered `on', it was tuned to ESPN from 6 p.m. 
     central until at least midnight, as the Women's Basketball 
     team pulled out all the stops on offense and defense.
       With a ``never-say-die'' spirit, the can-do Aggies, led by 
     America's favorite new coach, Gary Blair, and King of 
     Defense, Vic Schaefer, let loose and held forth as the Aggies 
     pulled out a 76-70 victory that still seems unreal, unless 
     you saw it yourself. Never. Say. Die. The Lady Aggies, per 
     Coach Blair's pre-game speech, stayed on the bus, to come out 
     winners. Said Blair, ``if you don't plan on winning tonight, 
     then get off the bus. There's only one thing that counts. 
     Winning''. Taking his words to heed, each team member 
     committed to that outcome, and emerged the first national 
     champions in Texas A&M Women's basketball. History was made.
       Throughout the NCAA series the team: MVP Danielle Adams, 
     Tyra White, Sydney Carter, Sydney Colson, Adora Elonu, 
     Maryann Baker, Adrienne Pratcher, Kelsey Assarian, Karla 
     Gilbert, Kristi Bellock--battered, bruised, in visible pain, 
     tossed and slammed onto the floors of field houses, arenas, 
     and stadiums, play after play, time after time, just got back 
     up and showed America what it meant to be a proud `Fightin' 
     Texas Aggie'.
       ``Some may boast of prowess bold, of the school they think 
     so grand, but there's a spirit that's ne'er been told. It's 
     the Spirit of Aggieland. We are the Aggies, the Aggies are 
     We, true to each other as Aggies can be. We've got to fight 
     boys (old traditions die hard), we've got to fight, we've got 
     to fight for maroon and white. After they've boosted all the 
     rest, they will come and join the best, for we are the 
     Aggies, the Aggies are we. We're from Texas AMC''. The words 
     to the school song never sounded sweeter as they did to those 
     who witnessed history in the making, in a fieldhouse in 
       Wednesday, April 6th at 2 p.m., history will be made once 
     again. The Lady Aggies will be at Reed Arena to be greeted by 
     their Texas Aggie family, the Aggie Nation, and at last their 
     time has come. Word to the wise: get there early if you're 
     going. For the first time in the history of Women's 
     basketball, there's going to be a parking problem to welcome 
     home the champions.
       The Lady Aggies have brought honor, dignity, and joy to 
     those who call TAMU their team. Sunday night, TV audiences 
     were treated to a one-shot of a little fellow holding up a 
     cardboard sign saying, ``Coach Blair is my hero''. That went 
     viral across Facebook and Twitter. Turns out, it was the 
     coach's grandson, Logan. His sign tonight, shown to the 
     nation, said, ``after we win Coach Blair is taking me to 
     Disneyland''. That only seems fair, as Coach Blair took 
     Aggies everywhere to the top of the college sports world 
     tonight. And it was the ride of a lifetime, and sheer joy 
     every minute of every game of every season. Gig em, Aggies, 
     for tonight you are indeed the NCAA Champions.