Office of the Press Secretary
(Colorado Springs, Colorado)

For Immediate Release June 2, 1999


Doolittle Hall
United States Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, Colorado

10:37 A.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. General Oelstrom, Coach DeBerry, members of the team and family and friends. You know, one of the best things about being the President are the things that every President gets to do. I mean, every year I turn on the White House Christmas tree; every year I give a pardon to a Thanksgiving turkey. You know, there are things you do every year. And when the history of our administration is written, I will be credited with instituting a new permanent tradition. Every year I give the Commander in Chief's Trophy to the Air Force Academy. (Applause.) There has been only one lapse in seven years -- it's been an amazing experience.

I follow football very closely and I know a lot of people think this is the best Falcon team ever. (Applause.) You won the conference. You had a great record -- a top 10 finish. You won the conference. You won your bowl game. Beat Army and Navy by a combined 70 points. I hope that press won't report that. (Laughter.) I still have a few more trips to make to those academies. (Laughter.)

It was a truly amazing thing. And to me, in some ways, the most impressive statistic of all was that for two years in a row you were, next to Ohio State, the second best defensive team in the country. I've actually met the Ohio State football team and they're slightly larger. (Laughter.) I don't think they could fly jet airplanes -- lift them maybe, but not fly them.

So I have really been amazed at the consistency of performance here. And I think it's a real tribute not only to the young men, but obviously to the coach and to the spirit and to the idea that excellence can be achieved against considerable odds.

And it's a great honor for me to be here. I congratulate you again. And I thank you for making this a tradition. And I think you probably cannot imagine how many young athletes there are out there all over America who, because you have been able to achieve this level of excellence while pursuing a rigorous academic program, a rigorous training program, being in this institution of higher education for other purposes primarily, there are all kinds of young people who believe they can do the same thing. And that's worth a great deal in a world where it's not so easy to be young anymore. And I thank you for that, too.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 10:40 A.M. MDT



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