Trojans Show Their Colors at the 3rd Annual Community Bowl
Dec. 12, 2013
Last Saturday, more than 170 student-athletes visited 32nd Street School for the 3rd Annual Community Bowl, a day of mentorship, campus beautification, and sport.
Despite the incessant rain and cold temperatures, the Trojans joined children and families to undertake 12 beautification projects at the elementary school campus across the street from USC. From spray painting five murals to planting four vegetable gardens to replacing tattered basketball nets, the athletes got their hands dirty, and wet, during a hard day's work. After the projects, attendees were rewarded with reading time, a healthy lunch, and a field day of events.
The true impact of this visit, however, extends far beyond cosmetic improvements. Midway through the painting session, Principal Ezekiel Gonzalez introduced a middle school boy to football players Leon McQuay and Chris Willson. He asked the Trojans to chat with the young student about their commitment to academics and solid character.
"This particular student loves football, but refuses to work in the classroom," said Principal Gonzalez. "Today is the day that he will either turn his life around or get lost from the system before he finishes high school. These athletes are his final chance for real motivation."
Willson and McQuay, much like their fellow Trojans throughout the day, assumed the role of mentor with enthusiastic grace. They spoke about dedication in the classroom, treating coaches with respect, and a commitment to the self. "Before USC offered me a scholarship," warned McQuay, "they talked to everybody I knew to make sure I was a good kid, because that's the only way to do it."
Carrying a fresh t-shirt, a book, and USC notebook in hand, the young student left Saturday's event changed by the Trojan Family along with many of his peers. With several visual reminders around their campus, such as brand new ivy stalks growing up the front walls and a cardinal and gold welcome garden in the parking lot, these young students won't soon forget their day with the athletes.
The project was made possible by the aid of the Trojan Athletic Parents Association (TAPA), whose donations of time and materials facilitated the expansive school makeover. TAPA volunteer Mark Tanimura's contributions of fruit and water kept the attendees healthy throughout the busy day, while the camera work of Scot Obler helped catalogue the visual impact of each project.
"It is my pleasure to help out, and I really appreciate the opportunity to be involved as a Trojan," said Obler.
The day's festivities have become a December tradition since Matt Barkley and his teammates championed the first Community Bowl three years ago. To date, the Trojans have helped renovate Weemes Elementary, Vermont Elementary, and 32nd Street School. The event was funded by the Otis Booth Community Outreach Endowment for USC Athletics.