You could say that Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo and the Midshipmen have become well acquainted with U.S. President Barack Obama during his two terms in office.
Navy has received the Commander-in-Chief trophy by defeating fellow military schools Army and Air Force in 10 of the last 13 seasons, which includes a ceremony and trophy presentation in the White House. Navy was there when President Obama started his first term, and the team was there again Wednesday in the final year of the president's second term.
"Mr. President, it's always an honor for us to come to the White House," Niumatalolo said, according to an article in the capitalgazette.com. "We take great pride in the fact that we've been here pretty much for your entire presidency."
President Obama complimented the team for having the winningest senior class (36-16) in school history, its 11-win season in 2015 and earning the right to visit the White House for the third time in four years, according to an article in the Washington Post.
"I know winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy means a lot to this team," Obama said in the Washington Post. "It means a lot to me because it shares its name with the most important responsibility I have. No disrespect to Vince Lombardi or Lord Stanley, but this trophy means a bit more to me personally.
"For more than a century, Navy’s mascot has been a goat. After what this year’s team accomplished, I think you could say that maybe that stands for greatest of all-time."
Niumatalolo and President Obama, who shared a hug on Wednesday, both hail from Hawaii.
Niumatalolo, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was considered for the Brigham Young University head coaching job at the end of last season. He was also featured in the 2014 LDS Church-produced film, "Meet the Mormons."
Niumatalolo's wife and two sons attended the ceremony with the team. Va'a Niumatalolo, the oldest son, plays football for BYU. He took advantage of the unique setting to propose to his girlfriend, according to the capitalgazette.com.
"It was also a great day for the Niumatalolo family," coach Niumatalolo said.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: tbtoone