Tommy Watch has officially begun in anticipation of rivalry week with UCLA. The Trojan Knights, an all-male spirit and service organization, will uphold their annual tradition of safeguarding Tommy Trojan and other USC statues 24/7 until the game against UCLA Saturday.
Drew Halderman, rally and recruitment chair for the Knights, explained that this tradition dates back to the ’30s, when both schools would frequently pull pranks on each other. Today, however, it has evolved into a spirited and light-hearted occasion to bring the whole USC community together.
“Tommy Watch is our favorite time of the year because we get everyone excited and amped up before the rivalry game,” Halderman said. “Friends and classmates always love coming by Tommy Trojan and just hanging out with us while we maintain our 24-hour watch.”
Last week, Tommy and Traveler, the University’s official mascot, were both wrapped in duct tape by Facilities Management Services. USC’s previous canine mascot, George Tirebiter, was also given personal protection with his very own doghouse.
“I love that USC takes the security of our beloved mascots and symbols very seriously,” said Jennifer Kim, a senior majoring in health and humanity. “You might think we’re going too far with all this protection, but trust me, UCLA is probably doing the same thing.”
Kim has friends at UCLA who can attest that their school is taking similar measures to protect the Bruin Bear. In the past few years, the bear statue has been tucked away in a secure wooden box, which costs UCLA approximately $5,000. The university also spent $15,000 on security cameras.
These precautions, however, did not stop a group of USC fans from spraying red paint on the Bruin Bear last year. The pranksters took action early — a full nine days before the rivalry game — and were able to successfully spray “SC Runs LA” across the bear.
According to Knights President Will Orr, there have not been many significant incidents of vandalism by UCLA fans since he has joined the organization, but there are always some suspicious Bruins who come to campus as part of their “pledge mission.”
“Every year, we’ll have a group of pledges hanging around Tommy, and they’ll claim to be from a USC fraternity that doesn’t even exist,” Orr said. “You can never be too careful, so we’ll definitely stay on watch for that.”
The Knights are so serious about protecting Tommy Trojan that they plan on extending their 24-hour vigil even during Thanksgiving.
“We’ll set up folding chairs and sleeping bags for the whole week and next Thursday. Some of us will probably eat our Thanksgiving dinners right next to Tommy,” Orr said.
Nevertheless, Tommy Watch is a fun time for the Knights every year. Brendan Nguyen, who joined the spirit organization last fall, says his favorite part is being right in the middle of all the excitement and hype on campus.
“It’s a fun experience because I get to hang out with my fellow Knights as well as other students who stop by and show their support,” Nguyen said. “I’ve never seen so much school spirit and unity as I have during Troy Week.”
Other spirit activities during the week include Conquest, a pep rally, concert and fireworks show, which will be held on Monday. Artists Miguel and ILoveMakonnen will perform at this year’s concert.