USC marks 100 years as the Trojans

Friday marked the 100th anniversary of the nickname Trojans to be used to describe USC athletic teams.

The famed moniker was first seen in the Los Angeles Times when sports writer Owen Bird wrote a column previewing a track meet between USC and Occidental College.

“The Oxy Tiger will be seen in action for the first time this season, in the clash with Dean Cromwell’s USC Trojans on the Bovard cinder trail,” Bird said in his column.

In 1912 USC student-athletes ceased to be called the Methodists, Wesleyans and Cardinals.

When asked decades later why he chose the name “Trojans,” Bird said that USC athletes “were facing teams that were bigger and better-equipped, yet they had splendid fighting spirit. The name Trojans fitted them.”

J.K. McKay, senior associate athletic director, said this legacy is what makes the Trojan tradition so unique.

“We definitely take seriously our tradition and remember our past,” McKay said. “I’ve been a Trojan since my dad became the head football coach when I was seven. The ‘Fight On!’ mindset has been an important part of my life ever since.”

To honor the legacy and commemorate the anniversary of the Trojan moniker, the Athletic Department is launching a 100 Years as Trojans celebration, which will feature its own unique logo to be used for various events.

The festivities began Friday as the baseball team defeated Akron and the No. 1 men’s tennis team defeated San Diego State and University of San Diego.

McKay said 2012 marks the anniversary of many important events in USC Athletics’ history.

“There seem to be a lot of anniversaries to celebrate in 2012,” McKay said. “In addition to 100 years as Trojans, 60 years ago my dad led USC to its very first national championship in football. This is also the 50-year anniversary of arguably the most successful Trojan football season in history. The 1972 team that I played on went undefeated the entire season, winning the Rose Bowl and national championship.”

Under the Trojan nickname, USC has won 116 national championships and 393 USC students have competed in the Olympic Games.

Clara Hill, a senior majoring in international relations, said the Trojan name represents not only USC Athletics, but also the university as a whole.

“Everyone I’ve encountered here is ready to take on the next challenge and go the extra mile,” Hill said. “Being a Trojan means fighting on even when things get hard.”

Sam Lejfer, a freshman majoring in business administration and cinematic arts, said the ideals of a Trojan are present in all USC students.

“The name Trojans symbolizes what it means to fight on despite the circumstances,” Lejfer said. “It’s not just a mascot; it’s an ideal embodied in every student.”

1 reply
  1. Jon
    Jon says:

    I beat JK to Trojan status by a couple of years. I was ten when my dad (who was at SC in the twenties), and I went to the Coliseum to see SC play Notre Dame in 1950. We were late. It was cool and foggy. The Coliseum was covered in ivy and the pigeons flew in flocks. We could hear the massive crowd long before we got into the stadium, and once we emerged from a tunnel the noise was stunning because Jim Sears was running a kickoff back for a TD. Gifford and Carmichael also had good afternoons; and Gifford, especially, seemed to be all over the place. Was I stuck on USC from that point on? Just ask anyone who has had to suffer my presence watching SC football.

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