Fever Team Eagerly Awaits Meeting the President

By Tom Rietmann | June 11, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- When the Indiana Fever coaches, players and support personnel visit the White House on Friday, they will have their unofficial tour guide with them.

Mickie DeMoss, in her second season as a Fever assistant coach, has met three different U.S. presidents in the White House while making six trips to Washington D.C. from 1987 to '98. She has photos of herself with Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton (four of them), each signed by the President.

On Friday, the Fever, as reigning champions of the WNBA, will visit President Barack Obama at the White House. And DeMoss will add a seventh autographed photo to her collection.

“It's just like winning championships. (It) never gets old,” said DeMoss, who was an assistant coach for Tennessee Volunteer teams that won six NCAA women's titles and were rewarded with the Washington visits.

Said Fever President and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf: “We're counting on Mickie to show us around a little bit.”

The Fever club will fly to Washington on Thursday ahead of Friday's pomp and ceremony at the White House. The team will then spend a long weekend in the area as it prepares for a Sunday game there against the Mystics.

“It's absolutely an honor,” Krauskopf said about the White House visit. “We're finally ready to sort of wrap up the 2012 season. That's the final piece of the puzzle, if you will, to celebrate a title.”

With an injury-depleted roster to start 2013, Indiana has struggled to a 1-3 record. And before meeting the president, the Fever will play Connecticut in a nationally televised game Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Fever star Tamika Catchings made it clear Monday that her team has to take care of business against Connecticut before anything else. Catchings noted, however, that she eagerly anticipates the Washington trip.

“We're all excited about going,” Catchings said. “As a team, it's just being able to celebrate with each other. When you are going together as a team … everything that you put into the season last year, it's all paying off.”

In 1998, Catchings was able to meet Clinton during a trip to the White House with her Tennessee team. She also attended the State of the Union speech made by George W. Bush in 2004.

A few years ago, Catchings met Obama during his visit to Kokomo, Ind. Catchings officiated an impromptu 3-on-3 basketball game in which Obama played as part of his first presidential campaign.

“He's just a great guy, so fun to be around,” Catchings said. “When he walks into the room, everybody just gets quiet. It's that understood respect that you have for somebody of his caliber. Mrs. Obama, too, she's the same. The First Lady and the President are just great people.”

Other Fever personnel have met presidents, too. Guard Katie Douglas and assistant coach Stephanie White visited the White House after Purdue won the NCAA title in 1999.

Australia native Erin Phillips has never been to the White House and looks forward to Friday's trip. Her only experience with meeting such a high-ranking official came during her time as an Olympian for her country and the team was introduced to former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

The Fever's upcoming visit with Obama has already made headlines in Australia. It was announced recently in Phillips' hometown newspaper in Adelaide.

“It's a huge honor,” said Phillips, a Fever guard. “Even being a foreigner, I have admiration for President Obama. Back home in Australia, there are many Australians who definitely look up to him and agree with his views and his outlook on the world and life. I'm super-excited.”

Ditto for Fever Coach Lin Dunn.

“I happen to be a Democrat and I happen to be very pro-Obama,” Dunn said. “So it makes this even more special for me.”

The veteran coach was asked if she had ever been to Washington for something of this sort -- a special ceremony rather than a scheduled basketball game.

“Yes, when I was a Girl Scout,” Dunn said, smiling. “I think it was about the 4th or 5th grade. We took a train from Florence, Ala., to Washington. That's the last time I've been there. So I'm really looking forward to going.”

Dunn paused and smiled again as she recalled more about that Girl Scout trip. “Who was the president? It might have been Eisenhower. Hopefully, it wasn't one of the Roosevelts.”