The entirety of your time at USC, the concept of the Trojan Family is drilled into you like you’re being inducted into a cult. How the Trojan Family is all this and all that, how the Trojan Family has done this and that, how the Trojan Family will mean blah and blah, et cetera. On one hand, it’s easy to spend all your time fairly ambivalent about the indoctrination while you’re there, participating by virtue of being there but not really buying too much into the hype – on the other hand, you can bleed cardinal and gold and volunteer to be in every spirit org and promotional brochure ever. I was always somewhere in the middle – very “meh” when I was on campus but reppin’ hard whenever I was home on the east coast. But it’s my opinion that you can’t have a truly great sense of appreciation for the Trojan Family until you’ve graduated and left LA.
This past Halloween weekend, I was in New York City with one of my friends, belatedly celebrating our birthdays (they’re two days apart in late October). Friday had been a fun day out on the town, but Saturday morning, we found ourselves with an annoyingly empty itinerary for the day. I knew USC was playing Berkeley that afternoon, and I also remembered that NYC had a pretty active USC Alumni Club. So I looked up the Gamewatch that would be going down, and found out that it would be happening at a bar called the Pennsylvania 6, near Penn Station. My friend said she was down to go, and I was stoked to be able to share the USC element of my life – if anything could deliver even a sliver of the spirit and zeitgeist of being at a game while away from LA, it would be that.
So we made our way into the city and over to the bar. I walked in to see the place almost literally taken over by cardinal and gold. The game was playing on all of the screens, big and small, most of the patrons were wearing cardinal and gold, and there was a USC banner hanging outside the establishment and inside. We got there right around half-time and people had already coalesced into groups, so my friend and I just grabbed ourselves a table in the area where the USC folks were.
We ordered ourselves some drinks and soon, half time was winding down and the game about to get back rolling. But of course, not without the SoCal SpellOut – S-O-U-T-H-E-R-N C-A-L-I-FORNIA, SOUTHERN! CALI-FOOOOOOOORN-IA! BEAT THE GOLDEN BEARS! After tipsily shouting my lungs out, I was relieved to learn that my friend, too, thought the FORNIA part was really awkwardly rushed. It wasn’t long after the SpellOut that USC scored a touchdown… and cue the cheering and fight song!
Fight On for ol’ SC
Our men Fight On to victory.
Our Alma Mater dear,
looks up to you
Fight On and win
For ol’ SC
Fight On to victory
It’d been a while since I drunkenly sang the fight song, my V for victory in the air. I got all emotional. You’re god damn right I did. Straight up heart-wrenching, butterflies in stomach, near-tears shot. It was weird. Some of it was probably the alcohol, to be real, but seriously. There was something about the spirit of the moment, about being surrounded by others in cardinal and gold for the first time it what felt like forever, shouting the familiar chants that had bound us together at the Coliseum. There was the incredible sensation of knowing you’re part of something bigger despite being so far from where it all began.
Only after you graduate and leave LA, when you can no longer take cardinal and gold for granted, can you truly begin to appreciate what the Trojan Family is all about. You realize that being in the Trojan Family means being able to draw on a shared set of experiences that transcend mere time and place. You realize that though we may all have walked and continue to walk our separate paths in life, our time spent on the hallowed grounds of Troy bind us together. You realize that the Trojan Family truly is lifelong and worldwide.