Lacrosse players defend flip-flops

CHICAGO -- There's a flip-flop controversy at the White House, and this one has nothing to do with President Bush and John Kerry.

A photo of Northwestern University's national championship women's lacrosse team, taken during the athletes' visit to the White House last week, shows four of the nine women in the front row wearing flip-flop sandals along with their dresses and skirts.

The choice of footwear has prompted a mini-controversy -- a flip-flop flap, if you will.

A front-page story in the Chicago Tribune included the headline "YOU WORE FLIP-FLOPS TO THE WHITE HOUSE?!" inspired by an e-mail sent to player Kate Darmody from her older brother after he saw the photo on the team's Web site.

Family members of other players expressed similar dismay, insisting the summer footwear staple was too casual for a visit with the president.

"Don't even ask me about the flip-flops," said the mother of
player Aly Josephs. "It mortified me."

During an appearance Monday on NBC's "Today," Darmody and
teammate Shelby Chlopak said players planned to auction off the
flip-flops they wore to the White House, with the proceeds to go
toward a fund for a 10-year-old girl with a brain tumor.

The women have defended their attire, arguing they wore a
dressier version of the casual sandal.

"Nobody was wearing old beach flip-flops," said Josephs, who
wore a $16 brown pair with rhinestones.

Darmody, 22, added: "I tried to think of something that would
go well with my outfit and at the same time not be that
uncomfortable. But at the same time not disrespect the White

In 2001, Bush's daughter Jenna, then 19, wore black flip-flops
in court, along with pink capri pants and a sleeveless black shirt,
when she pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of being a
minor in possession of alcohol.

The term "flip-flop" was used heavily during last fall's
presidential debates when Bush repeatedly accused Democratic
opponent Kerry of switching positions on issues.