Obama: Still the big man on (high school) campus
If President Barack Obama ever needs a pick-me-up, he can visit the campus of an American public high school, as he did on Tuesday at La Follette High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where he remains, indisputably, a rock star.
Shouts of joy and screams of “Obama! Obama!” greeted his motorcade as Obama pulled up and strode across the school’s sports practice fields to meet with members of its teams — the Lancers. (Team motto: “Attitude, Character, Effort.”)
He first met with members of the girl’s volleyball team, who ran out in their uniforms and knee pads, and squealed with delight as he spoke with them and then posed for pictures.
Then it was the turn of the school’s three football teams — varsity, sophomore and freshman — who crowded in the middle of the field, in full uniforms and pads, holding their helmets and down on one knee with their coaches standing among them. The players greeted Obama with a “1-2-3 Clap.” Obama exchanged hugs with the head coach and then chatted with the players for a good 10 minutes.
He urged the boys to work hard on the field and in the classroom, and told them about his own experiences playing football, basketball and tennis. The players asked questions about Obama’s life, and also about last night’s NFL game between Obama’s hometown Chicago Bears and Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers. Obama dodged that bullet by underscoring his point that players should use their heads, telling the teen-aged players that the Packers had lost to the Bears largely because of mental errors, such as penalties.
After the talk, he posed for a picture with all of the teams, after which the players cheered and shook their silver helmets. The younger team ran off to another field and did a series of jumping jacks, chanting the letters L-A-N-C-E-R-S and they jumped, and then shouted, “Obama, Obama, Obama.”
The older players, finally free of their coaches’ close supervision as they ran to their field, finally broke free and started shouting themselves. “I touched Obama!” they screamed.
Then it was time for the girls’ tennis team, and more pictures, and then Obama thrilled the growing crowd of teachers and students by walking to where they had gathered outside the school building.
Even members of the swim team had come out, wet, in their bathing suits and shivering in the late autumn afternoon, looking thrilled to meet the president.
The adulation in the air was palpable — and must certainly have been a welcome break from looking at depressing poll numbers for Democrats running in the Nov. 2 elections and constant battling with congressional Republicans.
Too bad most teen-agers are too young to vote.
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing (Obama at La Follette High School in Madison, Wisconsin)