weather icon Clear

Las Vegas flag football team gets to play on White House lawn

WASHINGTON — The White House played hooky for a couple of hours Wednesday afternoon along with more than 250 students, parents and coaches from across the country, including the Las Vegas Patriots flag football team.

White House luminaries mixed with celebrity athletes, determined young players, beaming parents and coaches at a field day hosted by President Donald Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. The event made for a golden moment that admitted everyday voters onto the world’s most important pivotal 18 acres, the White House grounds.

“Just standing on the president’s lawn,” one father deadpanned on his cellphone.

“So all of these titans of American sport know that many of life’s most valuable lessons are learned on the field of competition,” Trump told those gathered on the lawn. Team sports, he maintained, imprint the young with “the importance of teamwork, social skills. Do I have social skills? I don’t know. I have social media, that’s for sure.”

After his remarks, Trump visited the stations for different team sports including flag football, baseball, golf and track and field and posed for photos. The Las Vegas parents were amazed at the amount of time Trump spent chatting and posing with them.

With the Patriots’ 12 teammates, all boys aged eight through 10, came coaches, family members and team cheerleaders. Mother Jamie Chilton proudly cited the team’s undefeated record over its three seasons under coach Jason Ahlstrom as a factor in the team’s selection.

“My son has never lost a football game,” she noted.

David Pomerantz, a Las Vegas radiation oncologist, came with his 9-year-old son Neal, who was “just there for the football.” By the time the Secret Service was shooing guests off the South Lawn, Neal had sought out the president, hugged him and took a selfie with the commander in chief.

Kailee Olliges, 13, whose brother Jack is a Las Vegas Patriot, left with selfies of herself with Trump and daughter Ivanka.

At one point, Chief of Staff John Kelly saw Patriots cheerleaders sitting on the lawn, watching Trump chat up the team. Kelly invited the girls to join in the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

Earlier, legendary Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera tossed the ball with the Las Vegas team and former outfielder Johnny Damon gave players batting tips. Football great Herschel Walker scrimmaged with the young athletes.

Other students had the chance to meet volleyball star Misty May-Treanor, pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and soccer ace Shauna Rohbock.

First daughter and adviser White House Ivanka Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spearheaded the effort as a means to promote more youth participation in team sports. The President’s Council is especially concerned with declining participation among economically-disadvantaged youth and girls.

“Studies have shown that children who participate in sports have greater self-discipline, higher self-esteem, and are better at working with others.” Ivanka Trump told reporters in a conference call before the event.

For his part, Azar threw out the ball for the Patriots to intercept.

“These kids from Las Vegas are getting to take a pass from Hershel Walker,” Azar said as he left the playing field.

“This is not just fun. It’s also policy,” Azar added. He plans to focus on fighting a “pay to play” system that can price out students whose parents cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars to place their child on a sports team.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Man, 72, guilty of stabbing 76-year-old 250 times in Reno

Ralph Goad faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole at his Oct. 2 sentencing in the death of 76-year-old Theodore Gibson in his Reno apartment.

Bitter Reno family battle leads to manhunt, arrests

Roger Hillygus used a fake legal document to take his mother from a Reno care facility in a battle over the family trust, landing him in jail in Los Angeles and a friend, a former Nevada cop, charged with felonies for allegedly helping.