Ask former Trojan Marching Band members about their favorite experience in a cardinal-and-gold cape and they might describe the thrill of taking the field during halftime at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Or maybe it’s an exciting road game with the football team or being starstruck performing alongside celebrities.
For a special few USC couples, though, there is something else that made those early morning practices on Cromwell Field worth it: finding love.
From Secret Admiration to Marital Bliss
A proud “band baby,” Daniel Lichtmann ’08, MD ’12 grew up hearing about how his parents, Martin ’76 and Donna Lichtmann, met in The Spirit of Troy as undergraduates. Little did he know that he would be lucky in love just like them.
Daniel was smitten when he met Sarah Lichtmann (Kalen) ’10, MAcc ’10 at band camp, but he kept his feelings secret. “I had eyes for her without her knowledge,” he says. As drum major, Daniel was one of the most visible members of the band, but Sarah swears, “I was oblivious.”
More than a year passed before Daniel worked up the courage to approach the flute and piccolo player after Primal Scream, the biannual de-stressing event during finals. “I was very excited that the very cute Jewish drum major asked me out!” Sarah emailed her parents as soon as she got home — a message they still have saved.
Inseparable since then, Sarah and Daniel married after graduation. The band played at their wedding, and the happy USC couple couldn’t resist borrowing instruments during the reception to join a few rounds of “Conquest.” They now have two daughters.
The first, 2-year-old Riley, arrived just before the big game against UCLA.
“She ruined my streak,” jokes Sarah, who hadn’t missed a home game since her first year at USC. “But I watched the game with her in my arms in the hospital.”
Friendly Competition Leads to Love for USC Couple
Dawn ’86 and Alan Kita ’84 have a love story with a twist: They didn’t meet as bandmates. Instead, Alan joined the band as a junior — and even learned a new instrument — so he and Dawn could spend more time with each other.
“I was trying to teach him flute all summer,” Dawn recalls.
But in a sense, the band still brought them together. Dawn first noticed him at Songfest, when student organizations perform their best song and dance routines to raise money for Troy Camp.
As the Songfest publicity coordinator, Alan helped the band create its closing routine and impressed Dawn with his dance moves. They later found themselves in the same journalism class, where there was less of a collaborative spirit. “We were competing for the same A,” Dawn remembers with a laugh.
Luckily, the friendly competition brought them closer, and soon Alan followed Dawn to The Spirit of Troy. “When I joined the band, we were always together, so people knew us as one name,” Alan says. “We were always ‘Dawn-n-Alan.’ Mashed up.”
The band ended up being one of their favorite USC experiences. They remember taking the stage at the Hollywood Bowl for a Fourth of July concert, featuring guest star Big Bird strutting on stage. They also performed during the 1984 Olympics opening ceremony, joining 450-plus players on the Coliseum field.
But away from the thrill of cheering crowds, the band’s many hours of practice and long bus trips gave the USC couple plenty of time to build a strong relationship. It’s something they credit for the longevity of Dawn-n-Alan.
Love Blossoms in Cardinal and Gold
Kathleen ’83 and Bob Campos ’91 met at band camp the summer before their freshman year. Bob, a trumpeter, wanted to join The Spirit of Troy since meeting longtime director Art Bartner in high school. By sophomore year, they lived in Greek houses across from each other and walked with their fellow band members to practice. “We were one big happy family,” Kathleen says.
After graduation, their paths diverged, but they reconnected after a fellow band member’s funeral. In 1996, they married, choosing a small church with just close family and friends — many who were Trojans. The marching band made a surprise appearance at the USC couple’s reception. “We were all doing the dance routine to ‘Tusk,’” says Kathleen, a clarinetist who later joined the flag girls — now known as the USC Silks. “My manager at the time was a Bruin, and the look on his face was priceless.”
Another fond moment came when she stood next to Stevie Nicks — who was a baton twirler, besides being Fleetwood Mac’s lead singer — before a halftime show. “She got stage fright in the tunnel,” Kathleen recalls. “The drum major quickly coached her: ‘Look, we’ve got 250 people behind you. We need to take the field!’”
“Once she was on the field,” Kathleen adds, “she was great.”
Kathleen and Bob’s son, Devon, is a trumpeter and senior at USC. Although he’s not in the band, Kathleen says he doesn’t escape Bartner’s attention when the two cross paths on campus. “Dr. Bartner reminds him, ‘You’re here because I introduced your parents.’”