Recess from the Rivalry|
Feb. 3, 2015
On most days, a meeting between Trojan and Bruin football players results in a physical clash of skill and strategy.
Friday, however, it resulted in smiles and high-fives as the two rivals shared their passion for the Los Angeles community.
21 football players from USC and UCLA joined the Wise Owls of 186th Street School for their 11th-annual Super Bowl Spirit Day.
186th Street Principal Marcia Sidney-Reed created the day to reinforce the importance of excellence in the classroom.
"Bringing student-athletes here to say the same message that we're saying makes a world of a difference," Sidney-Reed said. "To hear this message from someone other than their teachers, and see that these college students had to work hard and not slack off to achieve their goals, is powerful."
Trojan tight end Chris Willson grabbed the microphone first to incite the kids with a call-and-response chant.
"When I say school, you say rocks... school (rocks!)... school (rocks!)," Willson yelled to the Wise Owl Nation.
The elementary school students then impressed the Trojans and Bruins with their own school cheer, a song about character, and a peace chant.
While the kids enjoyed having the student-athletes around, the football players gained just as much from the afternoon.
Junior cornerback Kevon Seymour was one Trojan inspired by the trip to the Gardena elementary school.
"I love giving back; this is what I live for," Seymour said. "Going into these classrooms gives me a flashback of when I was in class at this young age."
Having grown up in a low-income neighborhood of Pasadena, Seymour admires what the 186th Street School faculty has built and the relationships forged with prominent PAC-12 universities.
"It's always important to see these young boys and girls and just let them know that we came down the same path as them," Seymour said. "If I got this opportunity at a young age, it would have meant the world to me, so I know how much it means to them."
Seymour joined quarterback Cody Kessler to huddle both teams and encourage the students to strive for good grades in the classroom.
"Excellence on three!" Kessler called. "One, two three ... Excellence!"
After listening to a message from each student-athlete, the kids introduced themselves to the college players, posed for selfies and received autographed posters. The day supported the mission of USC SCORE Initiative, as athletes inspired children to stay active and work hard in school.
"We tell our children they are champions, and they can be whatever they want to be," Principal Sidney-Reed said. "This is a wonderful example for us to showcase our children and bring the student-athletes to interact with them."
For one day, the Trojans and Bruins set aside the rivalry and formed a united front to inspire their Los Angeles family.