Traveler leaves his mark
During the first half of the 20th century, the USC Athletic Department used blocks of wet cement to preserve the footprints of prized All-American players, as well as unofficial mascot George Tirebiter and former USC president Rufus B. von KleinSmid.
Recently, the university’s chapter of the Skull and Dagger honor society revived the tradition to honor the Trojans’ official mascot Traveler. In a private ceremony in Hemet, Calif., Traveler created a set of hoof prints in cement, which will be displayed permanently on the third floor of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
“Traveler is beloved on this campus by students, faculty members and alums,” said Don Ludwig, executive director of USC Spirit and Traditions and director of Spirituality and Sports. “When our name changed over 100 years ago from Fighting Methodists to Trojans, Traveler became the symbol for this university. It was very special to honor that.”
The current Traveler is the seventh white horse to serve as USC’s mascot since 1961, when the first steed made an appearance in the football team’s home opener against Georgia Tech. Currently ridden by Hector Aguilar and owned by Joanne and Bill Asman, Traveler can be seen charging down the sidelines at all home football games each time the Trojans score.
“Keeping this tradition going cements Traveler as the university’s mascot,” Ludwig said. “We aren’t going to have a dog, a bear or a fish here. Traveler is going to stay for years to come.”
In the coming years, the university hopes to add footprints to the display of former USC president Steven B. Sample and former first lady Kathryn Sample, as well as current President C. L. Max Nikias and first lady Niki C. Nikias.