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USC to mark 100th anniversary of Trojans nickname

USC to Mark 100th Anniversary of Trojans Nickname
A Los Angeles Times sports editor first referred to the USC athletes as Trojans in a 1912 story.

Trojans, one of the most iconic monikers in sports history, will mark its 100th anniversary on Feb. 24 as the nickname of USC’s athletic teams.

The USC athletic department will commemorate the anniversary with a yearlong “100 Years as Trojans” celebration. A logo has been developed for use in various communication platforms.

Two USC teams have home events on Feb. 24. The baseball team will host Akron University at 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field, while the No. 1-ranked and three-time defending NCAA champion men’s tennis team will host San Diego State at 1 p.m. and San Diego at 6 p.m.

“What an incredible 100 years it has been since we adopted the Trojans name,” said USC’s athletic director Pat Haden, holder of the Charles Griffin Cale Director of Athletics’ Chair. “ ‘Fight On,’ ‘Trojan Family,’ ‘Trojan for life,’ all those things resonate with me. Saying you are a Trojan is not just a moniker, it is a way of life.”

The unveiling of the Trojans nickname 100 years ago occurred without fanfare. On Feb. 24, 1912, Los Angeles Times sports editor Owen R. Bird referred to the USC track team as Trojans in the opening paragraph of a preview story about that week’s meet between USC and Occidental College.

“The Oxy Tiger will be seen in action for the first time this season, in the clash with Dean Cromwell’s USC Trojans on the Bovard cinder trail,” Bird wrote.

USC teams previously had been called by various names, including the Methodists and Wesleyans, nicknames that were not looked upon with favor by university officials. In fact, in the weeks leading up to Bird’s historic Feb. 24 article, stories in the Times referred to USC teams as the Cards, apparently in reference to one of USC’s school colors (cardinal).

Warren Bovard, then-director of athletics and son of university president George Bovard, asked Bird to select an appropriate nickname.

“At this time, the athletes and coaches of the university were under terrific handicaps,” Bird wrote in a 1950-era document. “They were facing teams that were bigger and better-equipped, yet they had splendid fighting spirit. The name Trojans fitted them.

“I came out with an article in which I called attention to the fighting spirit of USC athletes and named them Trojans. From then on, we used the term all the time, and it stuck.

“The term Trojan as applied to USC means to me that no matter what the situation, what the odds or what the conditions, the competition must be carried on to the end,” Bird wrote, “and those who strive must give all they have and never be weary in doing so.”

Since first adopting the nickname in 1912, USC teams have won 116 national championships. The university’s athletes have captured 363 individual NCAA titles and four Sullivan Awards. Nearly 400 Trojans have competed in the Olympic Games, winning 262 medals (123 golds, including at least one gold in every Summer Olympics from 1912).

Trojans also have been named NCAA Postgraduate Scholars 51 times and members of the Academic All-American first team 29 times, and four USC athletes were selected as Rhodes Scholars.

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