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Days With DK

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DSC_7337.jpgA quick search of the hashtag #DaysWithDK on Instagram shows the highlights of a young man making the most of every moment.

Former USC linebacker Devon Kennard used his career at Troy to make his way to the Big Apple, where he's a rising star for the New York Giants with a passion for bettering not only himself, but the community around him.

During his time at USC, Kennard started 32 games, racked up 195 tackles and earned All-Pac-12 honors. The Phoenix, AZ native also excelled in the classroom -- earning a bachelor's degree in communication and a Master's in communication management, while boasting the team's highest GPA in 2013.

Kennard wanted to take advantage of every opportunity afforded him in college, so he jumped at the chance to travel to Haiti in 2012 with 15 of his teammates. Over the course of five days, the Trojans built four homes for families affected by the devastating 2010 earthquake.

"I think it sparked something in me that I'm going to continue to do for the rest of my life," Kennard said at the time, and he's come through on that promise countless times since.

Just two months after returning from the life-changing trip, Kennard suffered a season-ending pectoral injury. Though a disappointing setback, the injury allowed Kennard to reconsider his priorities, especially in light of his recent experience in Haiti.

"I started to question my identity, because I associated my identity so much with 'football player,'" Kennard said. "There were times that I felt depressed, sad, mad -- I had all those feelings. And I realized I never wanted to make football my entire life and feel this way again. It made me look into 'What else am I interested in? What else am I passionate about? What things do I enjoy doing?' I think that was the turning point for me."

Kennard redshirted that year and came back stronger in 2013, being named a team captain, earning the team's Most Inspirational Player award and performing well enough to be drafted by the Giants in the fifth round (174th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Despite being a late-round pick, Kennard has carved out a starting role with the Giants, as well as an important role in the community. As soon as he settled down in East Rutherford, Kennard started finding different ways to give back. He's attended Salute to Service events, NFL Play 60 events, NFL Draft parties with fans and more. He's involved himself with the Joyful Heart Foundation, which supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as A Call to Men, which educates young men about how to practice a "healthy and respectful manhood." And earlier this month, he announced a campaign called Reading With DK, created to encourage children to read this summer.

"I have a passion for kids, so anything involving youth education or anything like that, I enjoy," says Kennard.

Last year, Kennard took that passion to the next level when he began volunteering with New City Kids, a Jersey City-based organization that helps low-income elementary schoolers complete their homework, learn to play instruments, practice their faith and more. After his very first visit, Kennard says he "immediately fell in love" with the children and the structure of the program.

"They created a really cool system where the younger kids grow up and become the hired counselors," Kennard explained. "The older kids walk [the younger kids] through their whole college application, so 100 percent of the kids that go through their whole program go to college. And things like that are really important, especially in low income areas, where kids don't have as much opportunity."

During the 2016 NFL season, Kennard spent his one off-day every week mentoring kids in the program, and has continued to do so throughout his offseason.

DK New City Kids.jpgSo how does Kennard find the time to fit all his commitments in his busy schedule?

"I think it comes down to priorities," he says. "My biggest hobby is investing in myself. And by that, I mean I'm not big on video games -- I don't even own a video game console. I haven't since, like, middle school. When I'm not training, watching film, I'm trying to get better in another way. I'm reading books, trying to take meetings and meet new people, doing stuff in the community to give back. It's all about what you find is important. Things that are important to you, you find time for."

Despite writing a business plan for his own nonprofit while in graduate school, Kennard has decided that for now, he can maximize his impact by working with programs that have already built the foundation to do good work in the community.

Next up on Kennard's ever-evolving to-do list is coming back to USC to share his advice with current student-athletes.

"I want to go back to USC and talk to the guys next season about networking, meeting people, taking advantage of opportunities and building a network outside of your football world. I think that's really important."

Follow Kennard on Twitter and Instagram to stay in the loop on his achievements on and off the field.

Josh Adam Joins USC as Rowing Head Coach

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josh adam.jpgToday, USC athletic director Lynn Swann announced Josh Adam as the new head coach of the Trojan women's rowing team.

Click here for the full release.

Adam, 41, spent the last seven of his 16 years as a coach at Washington State. From 2011-2014, he served as assistant coach, and from 2015-17, he served as associate head coach. The Cougars made it to the NCAA Championship in six of his seven seasons in Pullman.

On the collegiate level, Adam has also coached at Seattle Pacific, Lewis and Clark, Minnesota and Indiana.

Outside of collegiate athletics, Adams has worked with the U.S. National Team, coaching the Pre-Elite women's team from 2009-10, the women's U-23 Lightweight Scullers from 2005-07 and more.

"We are delighted that Josh is coming to USC," said Swann. "He is a well-respected and experienced coach who is focused, dedicated and motivated. He has high character and integrity, and relates well to the student-athletes. He has the vision to guide USC women's rowing to championships and we are confident he can do that."

Adam, who rowed in college at Seattle Pacific, replaces Zenon Babraj, who resigned last month after 15 years at USC. Adam inherits a team that finished 15th in the nation in 2017 and fifth at the Pac-12 Championship, missing the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2008.

Follow USC women's rowing on Twitter and Instagram to learn more about Adam and stay up-to-date during the offseason.

Title IX Turns 45

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17_Womens_TitleIXGraphic.jpgForty-five years ago today, Congress passed Title IX, creating a boom in women's sports on the NCAA level.

A section of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX ensured that "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Since its inception, USC's women's sports have blossomed. Across 12 women's sports, USC was won 30 national championships (20 NCAA) and 73 individual NCAA championships.

USC's first women's team title came four years after Title IX was implemented. Head coach Chuck Erbe led the women's volleyball team to the AIAW Championship in 1976 for the first of six titles for the program. Only women's tennis has more at USC (seven).

USC's 20 women's NCAA titles are the seventh-most in the nation, while their 73 individual titles rank ninth.

In addition to USC's national titles, 18 Women of Troy have earned the Honda Award for the top female athlete in their sport. The first was Cheryl Miller of USC women's basketball in 1984, and the most recent was Samantha Bricio of USC women's volleyball in 2016.

Bricio's dominance helped USC's athletic department earn the 2016-15 Capital One Cup, given to the nation's top women's athletic program based on NCAA finishes.

Between basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, rowing, beach volleyball, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball and water polo, USC's women's sports have come on strong lately, winning at least one national title in four of the past five seasons.

In 2016, two women's teams went all the way: soccer won its second title in program history and beach volleyball won its third in a row.

Follow the Trojans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see which women's team will be next!

I Spy An ESPY

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espys horizontal.jpgTwo Trojans who shined on the world's biggest stage in 2016 are nominated for awards at the 2017 ESPYS.

USC alum Allyson Felix is nominated for Best Female U.S. Olympic Athlete after becoming the most decorated American woman in Olympic track and field history.

At the Rio Olympics last summer, Felix won two gold medals (in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays) and a silver medal (in the 400m).

She now has a total of nine gold medals -- six gold and three silver -- tying her with Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey for the most Olympic medals of any female track and field athlete in history.

Click here to vote for Felix for Best Female U.S. Olympic Athlete!

The only Trojan who had a more impressive Olympic showing was swimmer Katinka Hosszu. The Hungarian USC alum, nicknamed The Iron Lady, is nominated for Best International Athlete.

Hosszu burst onto the scene at the Rio Olympics, setting a world record and taking home the gold in the 400m IM in addition to winning the 200m IM and the 100m Back. She also earned a silver in the 200m Back.

No other swimmer at the Rio Olympics won more individual events.

Click here to vote for Hosszu for Best International Athlete!

The 2017 ESPY Awards will take place on July 12 at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The show will be broadcast on ABC.

Lynn The Legend

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17_Baseball_LynnHOF.jpgOn July 1, USC baseball legend Fred Lynn will be inducted into the Omaha College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Click here for the full release!

In his three years at USC, Lynn led the Trojans to three straight NCAA titles. He played 158 games in Cardinal and Gold, batting .320 with 28 home runs and 11 RBI. In 1971, he earned a spot on the College World Series All-Tournament team after hitting .467. In 1972, he was named an All-American. Lynn also enjoyed a stint on the USC football team in 1971.

Lynn, who was born in Chicago, is already a member of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (Class of 2007).

The Omaha College Baseball Hall of Fame was created more recently, in 2013. Despite its young nature, Lynn is already the second Trojan inducted. Former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux, who led the Trojans to 11 national championships, was one of six members of the inaugural class.

USC's two representatives in the Omaha College Baseball Hall of Fame are the third-most of any school in the nation.

Lynn will be officially inducted in a ceremony on July 1 at the College Home Run Derby in Omaha. The ceremony will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. PT.

Saint Nick

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Down 17 points in its First Four matchup against Providence, USC men's basketball needed some serious help to pull off a win.

An unlikely hero came off the bench midway through the second half to provide the spark the Trojans were looking for: freshman Nick Rakocevic.

In the highlight of his season, Rakocevic netted nine points, plus a steal and a rebound to lead USC to a 75-71 victory and keep its tournament hopes alive.

The forward played in all 36 games his freshman season, starting eight. He averaged 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 14.9 minutes of action per game.

Rakocevic aims to come back bigger and better for his sophomore season, which begins this fall. Click here for tickets!

Trojan Made: Ivan Lewis

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This summer, USC football is putting in work to get ready for the 2017 season.

Leading the Trojans into battle is head strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis. Lewis details the importance of eating right, sleeping soundly and "doing the little things better" in the first episode of Trojan Made.

Soccer Gets Its Schedule

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soccer home sched.jpgUSC women's soccer will kick off its national title defense on Aug. 18, the team announced as part of its schedule release yesterday.

Click here for the full release!

The Trojans kick off their 2017 season by hosting UC Davis at McAlister Field at 3 p.m., where they'll raise their 2016 NCAA title banner.

USC's home slate also features notable games against Santa Clara, Colorado and Stanford, all of whom finished in the Top 25 in 2016.

Click here to see the full schedule!

USC's road trips will take the team to Missouri, Kansas, LMU, USD, and Pac-12 foes Utah, Arizona, ASU, Washington, Wazzu and UCLA.

In total, 12 of USC's 18 regular-season games will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

After going 19-4-2 en route to the program's second NCAA championship in 2016, USC welcomes a new crop of talent and appears ready to roll into 2017.

Follow the Trojans on Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date!

In Good Company

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USC men's basketball rising sophomore De'Anthony Melton proved to be a jack-of-all-trades during his freshman season. While it took some time for outsiders to appreciate his impact, the numbers tell an impressive story when put in context.

Since the 1992-93 season, the only freshmen to average 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks are Melton and future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade (Marquette), according to college basketball writer Chris Stone.

Click here for USC men's basketball tickets.

While Melton has some work to do to match Wade's career, the stat explains why Melton's stock continues to rise. Recently, he was selected for the Team USA U19 training camp roster and Draft Express projects him as the No. 19 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft if he decides to come out early.

17_Basketball_MeltonGraphic.jpg

#ShowYourGrit

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showyourgrit-2.jpgToday, USC Athletics honors the memory of Trojan football alum and film star John Wayne by joining the John Wayne Cancer Foundation's #ShowYourGrit campaign.

John Wayne, born Marion Morrison, played tackle at USC in 1925 and 1926 before enjoying a film career that turned him into a cowboy icon, starring in films such as Stagecoach, Rio Bravo and True Grit. He beat lung cancer in 1964, but 15 years later, he lost his battle with stomach cancer.

Wayne's family founded the John Wayne Cancer Foundation to fund programs that save lives through research, education, awareness and support.

During the month of June, the #ShowYourGrit campaign raises money for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. Trojan fans can upload photos of themselves wearing a bandana or a cowboy hat to Twitter, Instagram or the JWCF's Facebook page using the hashtag #ShowYourGrit, and $1 will be donated to the foundation.

Click here to learn more about the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and click here to donate!