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Kiwi Crasher

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During spring ball, USC football hosted a number of visitors -- from young children aspiring to wear Cardinal and Gold to former players who now don the colors of their respective NFL teams.

But perhaps the most entertaining guest was James McOnie, the host of New Zealand's "The Crowd Goes Wild" TV show.

McOnie chatted with QB Sam Darnold and took lessons from USC's punter from down under, Chris Tilbey.

All-Timers

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mark carrier.jpgTwo of the most dominant safeties in college football history -- USC's Mark Carrier and Troy Polamalu -- were named to the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame ballot today.

Carrier, who played at USC from 1987-89, was a two-time All-American and a two-time Pac-10 First Teamer. During his junior year, he became the first Thorpe Award winner in USC history. His trophy sat alone in Heritage Hall until Adoree' Jackson won the same award this December. Carrier, who led the Trojans out of the tunnel prior to their win against Cal last season, earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Century Team in 2015 alongside Polamalu.

Polamalu, who famously wore No. 43 at USC, stepped on the scene 10 years after Carrier's departure. In his four years at Troy, he was a two-time captain, a two-time Pac-10 First Teamer, a two-time All-American and a Thorpe Award finalist.

USC currently has 40 representatives in the College Football Hall of Fame. Only Notre Dame, with 45, has more. Should Polamalu and Carrier make the cut, they would join Trojan greats such as Marcus Allen (Class of 2000), Ronnie Lott (Class of 2002), Sam Cunningham (Class of 2010) and, most recently, Matt Leinart (Class of 2017).

The College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will be announced on Jan. 8, 2018.

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Tune In For The Trojans

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Today, USC Football learned the kick times and TV broadcasts for five of its games this fall.

The Trojans kick off the 2017 season against Western Michigan at the LA Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 2. The game begins at 2:15 p.m. and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

USC begins its Pac-12 slate the following Saturday at the Coliseum. The Sept. 9 game against Stanford kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on FOX.

The Trojans get another primetime showdown the following week against the Texas Longhorns. USC will host a rematch of the 2005 national championship game at 5:30 p.m. on FOX on Sept. 16.

USC's only weekday game of the season will take place on Sept. 29 at Washington State. Kickoff comes at 7:30 p.m. that Friday night, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Nearly a month after that, the Trojans will compete once again in the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. USC heads to Notre Dame on Oct. 21 for a 4:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) game, which will be broadcast on NBC.

USC still awaits game times for home games against Oregon State, Utah, Arizona and UCLA, and away games against Cal, Arizona State and Colorado.

Click here to purchase tickets!

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Stevie Fights On

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Following his second round win at the French Open today, USC legend Steve Johnson was overcome with emotion.

Just less than three weeks removed from his father's unexpected death at the age of 58, Johnson defeated Croatian Borna Coric in four sets and broke down in tears immediately afterward.

Johnson's father served as his youth tennis coach, and continued to coach for more than 35 years prior to his death.

The younger Johnson, who won two NCAA Men's Singles titles and four straight NCAA Team titles at USC, has faced two tough battles on the court at Roland Garros on top of his emotional battle.

In the first round, 25th-seeded Johnson won the first two sets, but dropped two tiebreakers and needed a fifth set to top Yuichi Sugita (JPN).

Johnson also won the first two sets in his match against Coric today before dropping the third and fighting off two set points in the fourth-set tiebreak to clinch a victory.

Immediately after his match-ending forehand winner, he dropped to the clay.

"I just knew he was looking down on me on that last point and gave me the strength to finish it off," Johnson said of his father after the match. "Physically, I'm okay. Emotionally, I'm a mess. He always wanted me to be a fighter and a competitor so that's what I'm going to do, day in and day out. That's the only thing I can do."

Johnson's perseverance has earned him a spot in the third round, where he'll face No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem (AUT) on Friday at 2 a.m. PT.

Triple As

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After the culmination of their 2017 season, three members of USC baseball earned Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention.

Click here for the full release!

Senior Corey Dempster, who graduated on May 11 with a Bachelor of Science in real estate development, earned the honor for the second year in a row.

Junior pitchers Bryce Dyrda and Mason Perryman, meanwhile, earned their first career awards.

Dyrda is an international relations (global business) major with a 3.07 GPA. Perryman boasts a 3.01 GPA in policy, planning and development.

This is the fourth year in a row that USC has placed three players on the Pac-12 All-Academic team.

Trojan baseball also notched a program-high 997 APR score (out of 1000) for the fourth straight year.

With the 2017 season recently coming to a close, the Trojans will look to its underclassmen to take the next step up, both on the field and in the classroom.

Heritage Association Spotlight: Heliane Steden

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The Heritage Association Spotlight was created to profile USC student-athlete alumni who have given back to the university.

Heliane Steden.jpgThis month, we chatted with USC women's tennis alum Heliane Steden, who earned three All-American honors and two NCAA titles during her time at Troy. Steden now works as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch and serves on USC's Board of Trustees.

In 2013, Steden, who was born in Germany but grew up in Mexico, endowed a women's tennis scholarship in her name -- the largest gift to the USC Athletic Department by a former female student-athlete in the Title IX era.

Aubrey Kragen (AK): Can you tell me a little bit about your time as a student-athlete at USC and how you think it shaped you?

Heliane Steden (HS): My experience was a little bit different than most, because I grew up in Mexico. I was born in Germany, then grew up in Mexico, and when I came to USC, I was like 'OK, I played tennis in Mexico, I was a national champion in Mexico.' I was used to winning in Mexico. But coming to USC, I didn't know anyone at the university -- maybe two people. I did not speak English that well. And everyone was so welcoming. It was an incredible experience. It was a completely different environment, but USC always just felt right. It's completely true about the Trojan Family and completely true that once you're a Trojan, you're always a Trojan.

And playing tennis was great. It was very competitive. When I came in, our freshman class was five very highly-ranked recruits, and it was definitely a battle. A battle that built a lot of character, I think, because at the end of the day, you have to work your way to the top. And it was always a supportive and positive environment.

And with academics, it shapes your character in a very positive way. And that reflects later on in your life experiences.

AK: When and how did you realize that you wanted to endow a scholarship in your name at USC?

HS: It was about four years ago -- [former USC Athletic Director] Pat Haden and [Associate Athletic Director] Scott Jacobson called me and came to New York to have lunch. Over the years, I played professional tennis after school, then I worked in L.A., then I worked in New York, so you lose touch a little bit as life goes on, and I had three children. So when Scott and Pat called me, it was such a welcome feeling to be reconnected to USC. I was incredibly happy to reconnect. And we talked a little bit about how I could be more involved. And my point was, 'What could make an impact and how could I give back?' because that scholarship that I had really shaped where my future went. And I wanted to see if I could do something like that for someone coming in that's in the same situation.

AK: So did your experience as an international student-athlete influence your decision to endow a scholarship intended for other international recruits?

HS: Yes, that was the idea, since I was an international player. It's just a great opportunity for someone to study in the United States and to get the USC education. So ideally yes, it would be shaped towards that, but at the end of the day, I trust who they recruit and I'm happy to see anyone get the opportunity that I had.

AK: How rewarding has it been to see the tennis team and the athletic department directly improve because of your donation and involvement?

HS: Very rewarding. And as time went on, two years ago I became a trustee of the university, so I've been a lot more involved. It's been incredibly exciting to see how USC is progressing literally every day. The academics are incredible, the programs that we have are incredible. Our admissions director called USC the University of the 21st Century, and I think that's absolutely true -- I think we have a cutting edge in everything. So that's been very rewarding. And giving back to tennis, having that scholarship and giving an opportunity to someone --because I know how hard it is to work on your sport, do junior tournaments, get your ranking up, do academics at the same time. It's a lot go hard work. And to be rewarded with a scholarship is quite an honor.

AK: Can you talk me through what your work on USC's Board of Trustees entails?

HS: After I got a little more involved in athletics, Max Nikias invited me to be on a leadership board. So I was on that for a year, and then he invited me to be on the Board of Trustees, which has been an incredible honor. I'm on the Investment Committee -- which falls right into my range of knowledge.  It's been very exciting to be in all the meetings and to find out more about not just the athletics, but also what's going on in the rest of the university. The University Village is an incredible development. The impact that we have on the economy of Los Angeles is incredible. All the achievement and the vision that the university has is very rewarding and exciting.

AK: The scholarship that you endowed is the largest donation to the USC Athletic Department by a former female student-athlete. What does that mean to you?

HS: It was a very pleasant surprise. I also think it's an opportunity for someone else to come in and look at it the same way. I think we all got so much from the university that if we have a chance to give back, it would be a great thing.

AK: Lastly, USC just celebrated its graduating Class of 2017. What advice would you give as they take the next step in their lives?

HS: I think it's all about 'Dream big. Reach high.' If you're reaching high, at least you're trying. Set high goals. Do something that's a little bit different. Take some chances. Because at the end of the day, it's kind of the same thing as it was on the tennis court: If you keep your head down and you work hard and keep trying, it works the same way in the real world. You will reach your goals and you're going to achieve things that you never thought you would.

If you are a member of the USC student-athlete alumni community, or would like more information about the Heritage Association, please click here!

Hole Out

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USC men's golf saw its season come to an end in the NCAA Quarterfinals against Illinois today at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, IL.

Click here for the full recap!

The sixth-seeded Trojans were competing in their third straight NCAA match play bracket, looking for the program's first-ever national title.

But the third-seeded Illini, playing just over two hours from campus, came back from early deficits in three matches to clinch a 3-1-1 victory.

Despite the disappointing end to the season, USC, which won five tournaments this season, still stands as one of the most successful programs of the past few years. The Trojans have racked up three straight Top 10 finishes -- their most in a row since earning five straight from 1973-77.

Three Trojans took their final swings in Cardinal and Gold today: seniors Rico Hoey and Andrew Levitt, and junior Sean Crocker, who announced his decision to go not long after the match ended.

The Trojans will reload this offseason and head into 2017-18 ready to pursue a national title once again.

Conference of Champions

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This weekend, the Pac-12 became the first conference in Division I athletics to win 500 NCAA Championships.

Click here to learn more about the Pac-12's big accomplishment!

While it was Washington's women's rowing team that hit the mark this weekend, USC has played a huge part in the Pac-12's success, accounting for more than a quarter of those 500 titles.

USC boasts 104 NCAA championships -- most recently bringing home the women's beach volleyball crown on May 7. That was USC's second team title of the year, as USC women's soccer earned the second NCAA championship in program history back in December.

Historically, USC's most fruitful sports have been men's outdoor track & field (26 NCAA titles), men's tennis (21 NCAA titles) and baseball (12 NCAA titles). No other school in the nation can claim as many titles in any of those three sports.

USC Athletics' year is coming to a close, as men's and women's outdoor track & field are the only teams still competing.

The Trojans head to the NCAA Track & Field Championships on June 7, with hopes of extending USC's --and the Pac-12's -- sheer historical dominance.

Race Toward The Finish

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Kendall.jpgTwenty Trojans in 19 individual events performed well enough at this weekend's NCAA Track & Field West Preliminary Rounds to advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, OR next week.

Click here for the full recap!

The top 12 finishers in each event at the NCAA Prelims earned a trip to the NCAA Championships. Many Trojans did that and more.

Junior Kendall Ellis (pictured) punched her ticket by breaking her own school record and the NCAA West Prelims record with a 50.45 in the 400m dash. She continued her impressive meet by helping USC's women's 4x400m relay team set a school record with a time of 3:26.09. Ellis, Cameron Pettigrew, Amalie Iuel and Deanna Hill set the collegiate record for the 4x400m relay back in March and won the event at the Pac-12 Championships earlier this month.

Ellis and Pettigrew also advanced in the 400m dash, while Iuel also advanced in the 400m hurdles.

On the men's side, redshirt junior Eric Sloan set a record of his own. His 55-6.25/16.92m (+1.9) mark in the triple jump ranked third in USC history but was an NCAA West Prelims record. Sloan also advanced in the long jump.

USC's 20 representatives at the upcoming NCAA Championships are six more than they boasted last season.

All in all, the following Trojans advanced to next week's NCAA Championships in Eugene:

USC-TRACK-FIELD-MCGILLEN-DUAL-MEET-2017_MCG0913LR.JPGAlexander Barnum (M-4x100m)
T.J. Brock (M-4x100m)
Anna Cockrell (W-100m HH, W-400m IH)
Kendall Ellis (W-400m)
Robert Ford (M-800m)
Dior Hall (W-100m HH)
Deanna Hill (W-100m, W-200m)
Amalie Iuel (W-400m IH)
Matthew Katnik (M-SP)
Brittany Mann (W-SP)
Ricky Morgan Jr. (M-400m)
Marquis Morris (M-110m HH)
Michael Norman (M-400m)
Cameron Pettigrew (W-400m)
Nick Ponzio (M-SP)
Alex Rohani (M-4x400m)
Tanya Sapa (W-SP)
Eric Sloan (M-LJ, M-TJ)
Christian Sourapas (M-4x100m)
Ky Westbrook (W-100m)
Men's 4x100m relay
Men's 4x400m relay
Women's 4x400m relay

Bump, Set, Study

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USC_grads_2017_DSC_0142 (1).JPGFresh off winning a third straight national champion, USC women's volleyball is still racking up awards, landing seven student-athletes on the Pac-12 All-Academic team.

Click here for the full release!

Recent USC graduate Nicolette Martin -- who was named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year earlier this season -- earned first team honors for the second year in a row. Martin graduated on May 11 with a degree in Fine Arts. She was honored as one of nine Stevens Scholars at USC's student-athlete commencement ceremony, for having a cumulative GPA above a 3.5.

Click here to learn more about Martin's experience as an art major!

USC's Terese Cannon and Jo Kremer earned second team honors. Cannon boasts a 3.48 GPA as an accounting major, while Jo Kremer boasts the team's highest GPA: a 3.75 in communication.

Four other Trojans earned All-Academic honorable mention, including Kremer's teammate, Jenna Belton. Katrina Kernochan, as well as recent graduates Sophie Bukovec and Sara Hughes also earned the distinction.

Hughes was selected as a Senior Speaker, a Marks Scholar-Athlete and a Trojaneer Diamond -- given to the student-athletes who bring the most fame and distinction to the university -- at commencement.

Watch her speech at commencement below: