Cailyn in the House: Dowagiac native reflects on White House visit

Published 2:45 pm Thursday, June 15, 2023

WASHINGTON D.C. — A former Dowagiac football standout had the experience of a lifetime Monday morning.

Dowagiac native and Ferris State football player Cailyn Murphy had a memorable trip Monday, June 12 to the nation’s capital where the Bulldogs were honored along with other national championship teams from across the country during a special ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. 

This past fall, the Bulldogs captured a second consecutive NCAA Division II National Championship, finishing with a 14-1 overall record. Murphy is thought to be the first White House guest from Dowagiac since former Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David Mathews and his wife Janet visited as guests of President George Bush and his wife Laura at a White House Christmas party in December 2004.

“It was so surreal, nobody believed our coach when he told us,” Murphy said. “When we finally got the confirmation from the White House, it brought joy to us that we’re finally being recognized for something we’ve done for the last two years and being up there with the highest stage of D1 athletes.”

The group arrived late Monday morning in Washington, D.C., for the ceremony on the South Lawn followed by sightseeing opportunities at historic landmarks before returning home. The trip covered nearly a 24-hour span after a lengthy flight delay in Chicago on the trip back to West Michigan.

“It was beautiful,” Murphy said. “We got to see all the monuments and spend time as a team. We learned a few more things about the history of the United States, so it was pretty awesome.”

Student-athletes from across all three NCAA divisions converged on the White House on Monday celebrating College Athlete Day, an event created by the Biden administration to recognize NCAA national champions from the past year. Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the student-athletes in the absence of President Biden while each team also had a selected student-athlete appear behind her on stage. FSU was represented by senior defensive end Olalere Oladipo, who earned Academic All-America First Team honors for the Bulldogs this past fall.

“It was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Murphy said. “It’s something you will never forget. Not many people from around here can be able to say they’ve been to the White House for winning a national championship. You get there and it’s eye-opening how beautiful it is and how great the environment is. Secret service people were congratulating us and had simple conversations with us like we were on the same level as them and that was pretty amazing.”

Murphy was honored to share the experience with his teammates and aims to help the Bulldogs win their third-straight national championship.

“It’s very possible,” he said. “There’s a lot of hard work and dedication going into the offseason right now and we’re fighting pretty hard to three-peat and get a dynasty going. With me coming back, my number one goal is to be a very good contributor to the team.”