Trojans Celebrate USC Day In L.A.!|
Jan. 21, 2004
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By: Meaghan Agnew, USC News Service
Amid raucous cheers and flashing Trojan victory signs, a triumvirate of USC champions -- the 2003 football, women's volleyball and men's water polo teams -- were honored Jan. 21 by the city of Los Angeles.
Dubbed "USC Trojans Day in L.A." by the Los Angeles City Council, the day's festivities kicked off at 10 a.m., with a ceremony on the steps of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Family members and fans gathered in front of the building's First Street steps to honor the first three teams in the USC history to win championships in the same fall season.
Associate band director Tony Fox led members of the Trojan Marching Band in renditions of "Tribute to Troy" and "Fight On" as USC President Steven B. Sample, Athletic Director Mike Garrett, the three head coaches and several city council members -- many flashing victory signs -- made their way out of City Hall and onto a stage already packed with student athletes.
City council member Bernard Parks, sporting a cardinal and gold scarf, opened the proceedings.
"USC Trojans are the cornerstone of our community, and what we are here to do today is to show America that you win championships in the pool, on the court or on the field, not in the computer," Parks said, making a good-natured swipe at football's BSC rankings controversy.
Los Angeles deputy mayor for economic development Renata Simril, a USC alumna, then presented the mayor's proclamation to Sample.
"As the highest-ranking Trojan in the mayor's office, it gives me the distinct honor and privilege of honoring the University of Southern California and proclaiming today, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2004, as USC Trojans Day," she said.
Garrett paid homage to the coaching staff that brought USC championship glory.
"I think we have the best coaching staff in the country," Garrett said. "Not only do they coach those that excel in their sports, but they are educators. I think we produce the best student-athletes in the country."
Sample closed the ceremony by giving special praise to Garrett for building USC's athletic program.
"Mike is the guy who recruited and appointed the best coaching staff overall in the United States, Mike's athletes academically have done wonderfully well, and Mike and his staff have raised more private funding for intercollegiate athletics at USC than all other ADs and coaches in our history combined," Sample said.
A procession through the streets of Los Angeles launched the second half of the day's program. Following the City Hall ceremony, the three USC teams piled onto four open-air double-decker buses and began the 2 1/2-mile drive back to campus.
USC supporters and curious bystanders alike cheered the convoy as it headed down Figueroa Street before turning onto the University Park campus to kick off a noontime pep rally at Cromwell Field.
A crowd of nearly 3,000 Trojan parents, students, faculty and staff and neighborhood residents erupted into sustained cheers as the three championship teams bounded onto the stage, which also displayed the three national championship trophies.
"It's a great day to be a Trojan," said Sample. "We are so proud of our student athletes. Their accomplishments will inspire generations of Trojans for many years to come. You've brought great honor to yourselves, to your families and to USC."
Sample also thanked the supporters on hand.
"You continue to play a major role in the success of the greatest athletic legacy in the history of any intercollegiate athletics. And for that, we are truly grateful," he said.
Each of the teams' three coaches then paid tribute to the players, singling out their All-American first-team members. Football coach Pete Carroll also was presented with two more national championship trophies from the Football Writers Association of America (the Grantland Rice Trophy) and The Sporting News.
A performance by the Trojan Marching Band and a celebratory lap by Traveler, the football team's equine mascot, brought the rally to a close.
The football, water polo and women's volleyball teams made USC athletic history when they brought home three national championships in the span of 30 days.
After the Trojan football team (12-1) beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, 28-14, it earned 48 of 65 first-place votes to finish No. 1 in the Associated Press poll. The team was led by All-American first-teamers Mike Williams, Kenechi Udeze, Jacob Rogers, Matt Leinart and Tom Malone.
The Women of Troy volleyball team capped an undefeated (35-0) season when it beat Florida to capture its second consecutive NCAA crown, an unparalleled feat in the history of USC women's volleyball. The team also became the first repeat champion to go undefeated, as it extended its NCAA-record 47-match winning streak. The team featured All-American first-team picks April Ross, Emily Adams and Bibiana Candelas.
The USC men's water polo team (24-3), behind All-American first teamers Bozidar Damjanovic, Predrag Damjanov and Juraj Zatovic, beat Stanford to win its second-ever NCAA title.
All three squads also featured coaches who were National Coach of the Year honorees.