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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 6, 1994
                   Washington High School Gymnasium
                         Milwaukee, Wisconsin

3:05 P.M. CST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Go Wisconsin! (Applause.) Go Washington High School! (Applause.) It is great to be here to say congratulations to the 1994 Rose Bowl Champions. Congratulations -- (applause) -- a job well done.

I want to start by saying this: President Clinton put Donna Shalala in charge of health care because he figured if she had the vision to hire Pat Richter to turn the University of Wisconsin athletic program around, then she must be the person to turn the health care bureaucracy around and win a victory for our country there, too. (Applause.) If Donna and our administration have a year anything like this football team did, then every family in American is going to be a winner.

Let me say this: that I will take directly to President Clinton the heartfelt expression of Randy Perine. I appreciate the sentiments. And, Coach Alvarez, thank you for your kind words. The President asked me to tell you that he regrets not being able to be here, but he's deeply grateful for the understanding that was conveyed to him, the sympathy and condolences that you have sent to him and his family at this time.

And it's a special occasion for you here and I'm proud to be able to stand in for the President on this occasion. And let me just acknowledge, in addition to Donna Shalala, Les Aspin -- and Donna and Les were both at the Rose Bowl -- and Les Aspin, who has done such a great job as Secretary of Defense. Governor Thompson who is here and served with President Clinton when President Clinton was governor, and to a friend of mine with whom I served in the United States Senate who was a great ally and fighter for the people of Wisconsin who happens to be a graduate of Washington High School, Senator Herb Kohl. (Applause.)

Now, I want to lay it on thick for his colleague, Russ Feingold. Russ, you're not a graduate of this high school, but you're also a fighter for the people of this state and, my friend, we appreciate all the work that you do. (Applause.)

There are a number of members of the Congress here -- David Obey, the dean of the delegation; Gerry Kleczka I think had to -- was at the earlier event. Tom Petri, Tom Barret, Peter Barca, Mayor Norquist is here. Speaker Kunicki and County Executive Ament and Sheriff Artison. And let me also acknowledge someone who was mentioned earlier, Principal Bob Nelson -- (applause) -- thank you for your hospitality; and Randy Perine and Pat Richter.

But let me talk just for a minute about Barry Alvarez. I have to admit that I like the spirit of this team and the spirit of Coach Barry Alvarez. Four years ago, he took over a program that had been heading in the wrong direction with a $2-million deficit. He had to come in to fix what was broken, and he was determined to turn things around. I want to tell you, Coach, that President Clinton knows exactly what that felt like. (Laughter and applause.) You've done a great job.

In four short years, Barry Alvarez has brought this team a fantastic winning record. They've gone from the bottom to the top -- even to Tokyo and back. All the way to a victory in the Rose Bowl and a place among the nation's top 10 teams, and you have created excitement and inspiration for football fans and Americans of all ages all across this country. And I want to say to you guys, congratulations on a terrific feat. Fantastic. (Applause.)

Now, you know, Randy made some good points. And I want to say that the lesson in this, in what they did and what Barry did, what the team did, the contribution the band has made -- all of those who made this possible. The lesson in it for the students here at Washington High School is very simply that you have to believe in yourselves; you have to believe that anything is possible. You have to know in your heart that if you put your minds to it, if you throw yourselves into it, if you won't take no for an answer, if you're willing to work for it, if you're willing to create the teamwork that's necessary to do it, you can do it and you will do it -- go all the way to the top. (Applause.)

That's true whether you're an athlete on a team, a student in a school, a worker at a company. Every success in life takes discipline, respect and faith. If you work really hard and set the goals and high standards, and then you're willing to strive hard to reach them against all odds, against all doubt, in spite of all setbacks along the way, success is bound to come to you in the end.

Going into the Rose Bowl, this team was underrated by others, but they knew they could pull it off. They didn't doubt it. They didn't listen to the naysayers. All year long they had to put up with skeptics who looked for new reasons to put them down. No matter how many times they won, some people just refused to acknowledge their strengths.

I think President Clinton knows a little bit about that, too, Coach Alvarez. But there's no doubt about it, after Wisconsin's win on New Year's Day, and what a win -- that particular win was -- everybody knows now what this team is made of and what this season represented. So, to Barry and to all the members of this team, take it from somebody on another team that knows what the phrase means -- you guys are come-back kids.

Congratulations to all you. Thank you, Wisconsin. God bless all. Thank you. (Applause.)

END3:13 P.M. CST