WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Medical staff were rushed to the East Room of the White House on Friday when a member of the college championship-winning Louisiana State University women’s basketball team passed out during a an event in honor of the team.
US President Joe Biden called for year-round support for women’s sport when the player, who was standing in the stands behind the podium, slid down and was helped off the stage.
“It’s a lot of standing. I apologize,” Biden said. “It’s okay. It’s happened many times.”
Coach Kim Mulkey said the player, rookie Sa’Myah Smith, was fine as staff chased her away.
“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go. Sa’myah planned for that,” Mulkey said.
“No, Sa’myah is fine, for those of you who are concerned. Sa’myah is fine, I assure you…She doesn’t want to leave. She wants to stay with us but she needs to check .”
The event marked a thaw of earlier tensions between the team and the administration, after first lady Jill Biden previously suggested inviting the finalists from Iowa as well, a break from tradition.
Star forward Angel Reese, who averaged 23 points per game last season, previously said she was ‘hurt’ by the plan but was on hand Friday to offer the first lady a hug and present him with a commemorative jersey.
The University of Connecticut men’s championship team was scheduled to arrive for a similar reception at the White House at 5 p.m. ET.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, DC, and Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)