USC’s Olympic Heritage and Athletic Tradition


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With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Closing ceremonies taking place just a few days ago, it felt apropos to reflect upon the Olympic Heritage and Athletics at USC! The Trojan tradition of winning at the Olympics can be dated back to 1904, when Emil Breitkreutz (Class of 1906) won the bronze medal in the 800-meter run at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Olympics. Since then, USC has not only sent hundreds of athletes to the Olympics but has also produced more overall medalists than any other university in the United States.  

As it stands, USC’s Olympians have won 155 gold medals, 98 silver medals, and 77 bronze medals in total. These accomplishments epitomize much more than just medals and a lasting place in sports history. In the words of USC President Carol L. Folt, “Every one of these Olympic performances represents more than a moment in time for our Trojan athletes — each race, game and match is also a tribute to the years of sacrifice and dedication that made them Olympians, as well as the support and love they received from those around them. These Trojans show the world what it means to ‘Fight On!’” 

Now, if you are similar to me and enjoy sports with a passion but may not necessarily be on the athletic talent-level of USC student-athletes (our Olympic tradition is unrivaled for a reason), you can still get involved in competitive and non-competitive sports at USC! Students at USC can participate in Club Sports and/or Intramural Sports to build connections, stay active and healthy, and more importantly, to have fun!  

Club Sports are student-run organizations that compete in intercollegiate events for various sports and activities. Not only are clubs independently run, but they also receive funding through Undergraduate Student Government (USG.) Current Clubs such as archery and tennis, for example, will typically hold practice a few times per week with competitions being held on weekends. As for Intramural Sports, it is a great opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to get involved in a litany of sports at numerous levels of competition. Whether it is competing in a 3v3 Outdoor Basketball league or in a 3v3 Outdoor Soccer league, there are plenty of ways to stay active while having fun. If you’re wondering about the competitiveness level between Club Sports and Intramural Sports, participation is much more leisurely in Intramural Sports as competition can range between one-day tournaments to six-week leagues. Essentially, USC Intramural Sports’ mission is to “promote an active lifestyle, student involvement, and safe environment.”  

Of course, USC students have the pleasure of watching their fellow Trojans compete in NCAA sports! Students can participate in the USC Game Day experience, witness the greatest marching band ever (The Spirit of Troy), and per tradition, kick the flag poles outside the Coliseum for good luck! Students also can incorporate Physical Education courses into their schedules. The USC Physical Education program “provides a variety of opportunities for students to improve their general health and fitness.” Through courses centered, for example, around the Mind and Body and Outdoor and Safety, students will be “better equipped to make choices regarding a healthy and active lifestyle.”  

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics brought tons of excitement, enthusiasm, and energy, making it somewhat difficult to not look forward to 2028 when the Olympics will be hosted by Los Angeles. As it did in the 1932 and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, USC will yet again play a pivotal role in the staging of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.  In 2028, the Coliseum will host portions of the Opening and Closing ceremonies as well as track and field events, while the site for swimming, diving and artistic swimming events will be Dedeaux Field, the Galen Center will serve as host for the badminton competition, and the USC campus will house both the main press center and media village.  

Whether it is through the 330 medals USC Olympians have won or through Club/Intramural Sports, the Olympic Heritage and fervent Athletic Tradition will forever be a part of USC. 

Check out these fun USC Olympic Facts and remember to Fight On! 

  • Going into the 2020 Olympic Games, if USC were a country entering its athletes in the Olympic Games, its 309 all-time Summer Olympics medals would place it 13th among all participating countries.  
  • For the third consecutive Olympics, USC sent more athletes (65) to compete in the Olympics – more than any other U.S. university.  47 USC Olympians competed in 2016 Rio Olympics and 41 competed in the 2012 London Olympics (tied with Stanford). 
  • 65 different National Olympic Committees have been represented by USC Olympians, the 2020 Games was the first time a USC Olympian has hailed from Croatia (Nikola Miljenic), Latvia (Tina Graudina) and  Tonga  (Noelani Day). 
  • Of the 472 all-time USC Olympians, 148 are female.  


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  • Two incoming USC first-year students competed in Tokyo:  swimmers  Marlene Kahler  of Austria and  Noelani Day  of Tonga.  
  • In addition to appearing in the Summer Games, USC athletes have competed in the Winter Olympics 11 times.
  • This was the sixth consecutive Summer  Olympics  that USC has been represented by at least 40 Olympians.  The  65  Tokyo Olympians are USC’s most ever in a Games.  Previously, USC’s 51 competitors in the 2008 Beijing Games were its most ever.  
  • USC has had Olympic athletes participate in 30 different sports in its history, but this will be the first time a Trojan has competed in skateboarding (Amelia Brodka).  Among the more unusual events for a Trojan:  George Roth won a gold medal in the 1932 Games in club swinging (part of the gymnastics competition).
  • USC’s 10 women’s water polo players in the Tokyo Games were its most at any Olympics and its 6 men’s water poloists were the most since 1956 (when it had 7). USC had more track and field athletes (15) in Tokyo than at any Olympics.   
  • Two 2020 USC Olympians were scheduled to carry their delegation’s flag in Tokyo during the opening ceremonies’ Parade of Nations:  swimmers  Robert Glinta  of Romania and  Yakov Toumarkin  of Israel.  
  • Of all the Pac-12 schools (also known as the Conference of Champions), USC has the most all-time Olympians.  

Written by: Andy T. Nguyen (Assistant Director, USC Office of Admission 

USC Hidden Gems and Favorite Spots: Staff and Student Picks

Want to get the insiders scoop of all the great places to study, eat and hang out at USC? Our students and staff are ready to dive in and reveal some of the best spots on campus


“My go-to order is an iced blueberry matcha latte from Dulce Cafe in the village. It’s the perfect twist to a regular matcha latte!”
-Naomi, Cupertino (CA), Sophomore, Business Administration major and Cinematic Arts minor

“My absolute favorite spot to grab a coffee/chai tea before class is Dulce in the USC Village! I love their tea lattes and their breakfast sandwich, and one of my favorite things to do is to meet a friend here and have breakfast together before classes!”
-Abby; Bartlett, IL; Junior; Linguistics, Spanish

Literatea! Absolutely love the pun with the name and the thai tea boba brings me major joy anytime during the semester! The courtyard outside is also super nice to enjoy that LA sun and get some studying in.”
-Audrey, Orange, CA, Senior, Business Administration/minor: Music Industry

“Literatea (hidden behind Doheney Library)”
-Haley Rosenspire, Admission Counselor for City of San Diego, Phoenix, Oklahoma

“I love passing by The Illy Café in our Wallis Annenberg Hall! They have delicious macaroons, and if you ever go, I recommend trying the Chocolate or Caramel flavors!”
-Aime; Porterville, CA, Junior; BA Psychology, BA Spanish, and Minor in Education and Society

“Orange Mocha from Illy in Annenberg. Its my fav and I miss them dearly.” 
-Hayley Camin, Admission Counselor for the Central Coast of California and Canada

“Cammereli Cafe in Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall. Always quiet, and a great courtyard to hang in outside”
-Cal Jensen, Admission Counselor for Orange County, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire


“Queens Courtyard”
-Pj; Winter Park, Florida; Sophomore; Psychology and Economics Major with a Minor in Environmental Studies
“My favorite hidden gem on campus is the Special Collections section in Doheny Memorial Library! I feel like I’m on a secret mission when I visit and it’s so cool how we have rare artifacts on our campus!”
-Aime; Porterville, CA, Junior; BA Psychology, BA Spanish, and Minor in Education and Society

“My favorite hidden gem is actually Traditions in Tudor Campus Center (TCC), not very hidden, but good food and great memories! I remember eating $1 wings almost every Monday night with my 2 best friends during my sophomore year. I just absolutely love the vibes and the memories I made there.”
-Audrey, Orange, CA, Senior, Business Administration/minor: Music Industry

“My favorite hidden gem on campus is the little courtyard outside of Mudd Hall. Here you’ll find this beautiful fountain surrounded by palm trees and flowers and only about 3 tables or so, and it’s right on the edge of campus, so it’s the perfect place to study if you want somewhere outside and quiet.”
-Abby; Bartlett, IL; Junior; Linguistics, Spanish

“It’s not super hidden, but I love hanging out on the lawn in the Thornton Courtyard! It’s pretty quiet, secluded, and has shade!”

-Adrika, Santa Clara, Junior, Political Science/Psychology minor

“My favorite study spots are the study rooms in the upper levels of Fertitta Hall because through the windows I can see downtown’s skyline!”
-Naomi, Cupertino (CA), Sophomore, Business Administration Major and Cinematic Arts Minor
“Hoose Philosophy Library – get some absolute silence away from the otherwise hustle and bustle of campus”
-Neelam Savla, Associate Director

“Town & Gown! It’s so gorgeous with it’s beautiful chandeliers, large fireplace, and the open layout that you can’t help but feel very fancy when you are inside. And when it’s decked out for Christmas…*heart eyes*”
-Dylan Goodwill – Admission Counselor for Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas, Utah & California (San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario area)

“The upstairs balconies of the School of Cinematic Arts are perfect for people watching and a nice hideaway in a busy part of campus! You’ll often overhear students talking about their latest projects and upcoming film assignments. Also totally accessible to students not in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA)!”
-Natasha Hunter, Admission Counselor for Santa Clara, CA and Upstate NY


“At least once every weekend my friend (who is now my roommate!) and I would meet up and sit on the windowsill of 6th floor Pardee Tower to talk about our nights and usually eat a late-night snack. We did it so often that other people on our floor knew they could count on us being there and would come by and say hi before going to bed.”
-Adrika, Santa Clara, Junior, Political Science/Psychology minor

“McCarthy Quad Farmers Market on Wednesday mornings, especially the pupusas”
-Cal Jensen, Admission Counselor for Orange County, CA, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire

“My favorite part about living on campus is the community events that happen through Residential Education. This year, I’m a Virtual Peer Mentor, which means I plan a ton of virtual events for USC students, and I absolutely love the opportunity to attend these events, meet new people, and get the chance to take a break with other people and spend some meaningful time with others.”
-Abby; Bartlett, IL; Junior; Linguistics, Spanish

“My favorite memory about living on campus was when I studied with my friends during Finals Week! In my first semester of my sophomore year, my friends and I would claim one of the study rooms and make it our private “home”. We brought snacks, drinks, and motivated one another when we were struggling to study!”
-Aime; Porterville, CA, Junior; BA Psychology, BA Spanish, and Minor in Education and Society

“My favorite memories on campus involve USC sports in any capacity, with my friends to tag along! The basketball games are the absolute best and so fun, even for someone like me who is not a huge sports fan. Baseball games are also super fun, especially with free hotdogs or free sweatshirts to incentivize me and friends to go.”
-Audrey, Orange, CA, Senior, Business Administration/minor: Music Industry
“The people! I appreciate my coworkers so much, as they make this job so fun and amazing. But even reaching out to the Faculty and Students shows you how awesome the Trojan community is!”
-Dylan Goodwill – Admission Counselor for Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas, Utah & California (San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario area)

“The Village is always a great place to meet up with friends and coworkers after class or after work. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch one of these sunsets while sitting on the Village couches!”
-Natasha Hunter, Admission Counselor for Santa Clara, CA and Upstate NY


“One USC memory I will always remember is my first USC concert put on by concerts committee, Springfest, since I was a spring admit. I remember seeing so many amazing artists. It was so fun to get all the free goodies and listen to some awesome bands/music from all genres.”
-Audrey, Orange, CA, Senior, Business Administration/minor: Music Industry

“I will always remember when the first time I performed in the pre-game, half-time, and post-game shows during our first home football game. I was one of the Silks in our Trojan Marching Band, and even though I was really nervous to be in front of thousands of fans, the energy inside the Coliseum was infectious and exhilarating. What made it even better was that my mom and sister were in the crowd and were able to experience that moment with me too!”
-Aime; Porterville, CA, Junior; BA Psychology, BA Spanish, and Minor in Education and Society

“Football (and bigtime collegiate athletics) was a deciding factor in why I chose USC and I will never forget the day I walked into the Coliseum for my first USC football game my freshman year. It was an earlier game I think noon kickoff, but walking through the tunnel to our seats and seeing the Coliseum open up on a sunny, warm day with the red seats popping everywhere combined with the green grass and cardinal and gold everywhere is a highlight of my time at USC. Made me way more excited for football and I knew I made the best choice. ”
-Whitney Rollerson – Admission Counselor for Long Beach, CA

“My favorite memory was walking to the Native American Student Assembly (NASA) center and eating frybread with the members. We ate home food while we all talked about home. I have a huge soft spot for my Native students and being with them makes me so happy!”
Dylan Goodwill – Admission Counselor for Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas, Utah & California (San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario area)

“One of my favorite USC memories was when my best friend and I got to attend a Spanish film premiere in the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd! At this time, I was a part of a Spanish film and culture class, and for our final project, we were supposed to go out into LA and attend some type of cultural event. I asked my professors if she had any recommendations for an event, and she ended up giving these premiere tickets to me and my friend for free! Because of this project, I was able to walk on the red carpet, watch an incredible Spanish film, listen to a Q&A with the directors and actors who flew in from Spain that day, and even attend the reception after the event. It was quite honestly one of my LA dreams come true!”
-Abby; Bartlett, IL; Junior; Linguistics, Spanish

“Years ago I had a very long layover in Incheon, South Korea and decided to go on a guided city tour. There were 4 people total on the tour and another couple were USC alumni – we bonded immediately since I was wearing my USC sweatshirt and had a great time talking about USC football and exploring Incheon for those few hours in between our flights!”
-Neelam Savla, Associate Director

Ready to visit these spots on campus? Let us know if you tried them in the comments!

Fight On!

USC Helenes Watch Hecuba and Tommy

Earlier this month we posted a blog about some USC traditions that permeate our campus throughout the years.  One of the most visible traditions is happening right now on campus.  This week is rivalry week which means that USC will take on our cross-town rivals, UCLA, this Saturday in football.  Rivalry week is a week-long celebration of Trojan pride which includes Conquest, a pep-rally, carnival, and concert on the Thursday before the game.  This year, you will also find the USC Helenes, the official hostesses of the university, camped out in front of Tommy and Hecuba –two of USC’s most notable statues.  Read on to hear from them and why they chose to sleep outside all week. 

It’s Conquest week at USC, and the campus is gearing up for one of the most anticipated football games of the season! People are playing Tusk on repeat and getting ready for the big Conquest concert on Thursday!

But others on campus are preparing for conquest in a different way. The USC Helenes have set up camp around Hecuba and Tommy, standing guard 24/7. Wait what? Yes, this university organization has volunteered their time to protect USC’s beloved statues from vandalism in case the Bruins decide to try any funny business. As a member of the Helenes myself, I was very excited to partake in this tradition and camp outside with the other members of the organization.









First, let’s start of with some FAQs:

What is the USC Helenes?

We are USC’s oldest women’s service organization. We are the official Hostesses of USC, so we do service like this [guarding Hecuba and Tommy] for the university, as well as working at the career fairs, USC events, and service projects in the LA community.

Why are you guys camped next to Tommy and Hecuba?

The week before the UCLA game is Conquest and Rivalry Week. As such all of the important statues on campus are wrapped or boxed (Tommy, Hecuba, Traveler, George Tirebiter), and the USC Helenes are guarding Tommy and Hecuba in case the Bruins try any funny business.









What kind of funny business?

In years past, UCLA actually stole Tommy’s sword so many times that it it’s not bronze anymore. It’s actually wooden. There haven’t been many attempts recently, but we will certainly be there to thwart them if they are.








Are you really out there all night?

Yes. We have different shifts so we can switch out and go to class, but there are at least two Helenes at Hecuba and Tommy at any given point in the day. Or night.

So, Rivalry Week has begun, and the Helenes have begun sleeping outside to protect our beloved Tommy and Hecuba. We keep a 24/7 watch all the way up until the UCLA game on Saturday. It’s a wonderful experience, and truly makes one feel closer to the university. Guarding Tommy and Hecuba is so much fun because we’re doing something special for the university and having a lot of fun doing it. We hang out, guard the statues, and it’s like one week-long sleepover!

Enjoy Conquest this week! Fight on, and beat the Bruins!

BY: Alex M. Peters ’20

You can find more student written blogs at Trojans 360.