Hoopin’ It Up With President Obama

On Monday, Renee Montgomery and her University of Connecticut teammates continued a long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House and being honored by the president. Just as the teams that came before them, the Huskies toured the White House, shook hands with the president, listened to his speech and presented him with the gift of a personalized jersey.

What separated UConn�s White House visit from previous teams is that this president took the time to shoot some hoops with the team in an impromptu game of P-I-G at an outdoor half-court at the White House. In doing so he left the players with a unique memory that will last a lifetime.

Not many people can say they have played ball with President Obama at his new home court. Montgomery had that opportunity and spoke with WNBA.com about the experience as well as her upcoming graduation, her move to Minnesota and preparing for her new life as a WNBA rookie.

WNBA.com: So tell me about the White House celebration on Monday. What was that experience like?

Montgomery: It was great. I really didn�t know with to expect going into it, like how much time we�d be able to spend with him and how much interaction we would have with him. I was really surprised by how he took time to take individual pictures with every single person on the team and all the people that came with us he made sure that he shook everybody�s hand. I knew he was actually running behind too on schedule and he still did all of that being late, so I was just very surprised.

WNBA.com: It must have been nice to shoot hoops with the president.

Montgomery: That was another thing too. He was already late but he said, �you know we should go shoot a couple hoops,� so we went out there and he took his jacket off and he was shooting around. He can really shoot. He only missed one shot.

It just said a lot about him. He was running late, but he still knew this was a big moment for us so he didn�t treat it as if I have to rush through this because I�m running late. I thought that was great.

WNBA.com: So not only did you have the White House celebration, you also had the parade at UConn with over 25,000 in attendance. What was it like to have that many people come out to show their support?

Montgomery: It was crazy. I heard it was going to be a parade, but I didn�t know if we were going to be the only people there and if it was going to be just us. But we saw like the Ronald McDonald thing up there and I saw some high school teams that had won championships, so it was like a real parade and I thought it was great. Just the people, they had signs, they were screaming, I couldn�t believe it, it was amazing.

WNBA.com: How much will you miss the college atmosphere?

Montgomery: I�m going to miss it a lot, just because you�ll never go back to it. When you graduate and you go on to play professionally, that�s what you are, you�re a professional and that�s your job. Although I�m going to be able to be doing what I love, it�s still at the end of the day a business. I think I�m just going to miss everyday going to eat with my teammates, just things like that, that you take for granted, just always being with your teammates. But I�m also excited just for a new chapter in my life.

WNBA.com: You have graduation coming up in a couple weeks right?

Montgomery: My graduation is May 10 and I fly to Minnesota May 11. I haven�t had a chance to make it to Minnesota yet, so it will be my first week there.

WNBA.com: What are you getting your degree in? And have you already thought about life after basketball or are you just concentrating on the first part of your career.

Montgomery: My degree is in Communications. I�m focused on the first part of my career now, but I want to be talking about sports on TV. I don�t know what aspect, whether it�s calling game-by-game or being in the studio, but I definitely want to do some type of sports casting.

WNBA.com: What was it like going from that craziness of the Final Four, the Draft, the parades, and the White House visit and then you�re back in the classroom with the other students?

Montgomery: It�s been tough, but our teachers have been very understanding. I know President Hogan and our Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway have mentioned to the teachers that it�s not our fault that we have to miss so much class, we�re going something good. I think our teachers have been really understanding when it comes to that but it is hard to stay focused. Last night we had our final gathering at my coaches� house and that was sad of course and I cried of course. There are just so many things happening. After we won I thought things couldn�t get any better, then we have a parade, then we go to the white house, I don�t know, things keep getting better so I�m looking forward to Minnesota.

WNBA.com: If you had to sum up everything that has happened in this past month in a few words, how would you describe it?

Montgomery: A whirlwind. It was just a whirlwind and I was caught up in it pretty much. From going to the final four and then winning the championship then coming straight from St. Louis to a pep rally, then getting drafted then the parade then going to the white house. There�s just so much and it�s so hard to take in still because there are still things happening right now. So I think once I get to Minnesota, but then training camp will happen, so yeah it�s all a whirlwind right now.

WNBA.com: Have you been able to really enjoy or has it been just been overwhelming?

Montgomery: I�ve enjoyed it, I�ve enjoyed every minute of it. I started working out two weeks ago, so it�s easy to enjoy it because you�re working at something else again and you appreciate how hard you�re working now. It�s hard to explain, but I�m working hard now and I know when I was doing that in the past, it resulted in us winning the championship and all of these other good things happening. So now when I�m working out hard and I�m tired, I�m like okay I know that its for a good reason because when you work hard good things happen so that helps me enjoy it also.

WNBA.com: What are you looking forward to most about getting into training camp and starting your pro career?

Montgomery: I think just seeing what it�s like. I hear it�s very different from college especially here at UConn, so just seeing what its like. I know every team is different in different ways. I know the team I�m actually going to is a very young team which I kind of like so I just want to see what its like. I hear all kinds of things and hear all kinds of stories but I just want to know first hand what its like.

WNBA.com: Now no WNBA team has ever gone undefeated so you will probably lose a few games. (Montgomery laughs as I ask the question). How difficult will that be to take some losses and turning around, the schedule is a little bit tighter, and just turning around from a loss and getting right back at it for another game?

Montgomery: I think that might be the hardest thing because with me when I lose I think about it for a long time, it sits for me for a long time. I know you have to remember but you have to have a short-term memory because you may have a game the very next day when it comes to the WNBA. That will be difficult for me in that aspect.

I�m looking forward to playing with my teammates. I�ve got some good ones with Candice Wiggins, Seimone Augustus and Charde Houston my ex-teammate that played here at UConn, so I�m excited.

WNBA.com: It should be nice to have someone you know pretty well on the team to kind of help you out.

Montgomery: Yeah, it makes it not so bad going to an unfamiliar area because you know someone that has already been through it and can help you out.

WNBA.com: Are you ready for all of the stuff that they make the rookies do � carrying all of the bags and all of that stuff?

Montgomery: (laughs) Oh no, that might be the only part that I�m not looking forward to.