My favorite USC sports moment. What defines a favorite moment? Is it the way you follow each play and count down each second until the very end? Is it the way a victory makes you jump from your seat and hug a complete stranger? Or is it the long lasting feelings and emotions it gives you? For me, my favorite moment gave me more then what I was expecting. It ingrained in me the love affair I still have for the USC Trojans and USC athletics now. However, it was not just because of that amazing win I witnessed. It was because of the person who took me there and shared with me what he loved most; USC football.
The day was November 30, 1996 and the USC Trojans football team had not beat Notre Dame for the past 13 years. The drought was real. USC had gotten close in 1994 with a tie, but that was not good enough. On this date, the Trojans finally beat Notre Dame giving Lou Holtz his only loss to USC in his final game as the Notre Dame head coach. However, that is not where the story starts and that is not why this moment has lasted in my heart for so long.
This was my first college football game at the tender age of 13 years old. I was invited to go to this historic game by my first mentor and soccer coach at the time, Rumy Lopez. Rumy bled cardinal and gold. He had received his bachelors and MBA from USC and shared that with me his love for USC as much as he could. So on this date, he decided that telling me about the Trojans was not good enough anymore, he was going to show me.
We drove to the game a little late and got to the Coliseum with three minutes to spare before kick off. The whole ride up there he told me stories about his days at USC that were not suitable for the soccer field or in front of my parents. But on this day, he truly shared with me the path he had taken that brought him so much joy. The path of a Trojan.
Once in the stadium he bought me a hot dog and we took our seats, but stayed standing the entire game. I could not believe the passion from the crowd. It was like nothing I had every experienced before. People screaming, jumping and hugging each other. Everyone acted like they were family or best friends. When we first arrived I did not know the significance of this game, but that quickly changed after each score from the Trojans.
Finally in overtime it looked like the Trojans could finally do it. As Notre Dame threw their final pass, it was deflected by Mark Cusano, and the drought was no mas. The flood gates finally opened and the USC faithful stormed the field.
What a game. What a moment. But the game was just the icing on the cake. The wisdom and knowledge that Rumy shared with me changed me as an individual. You see, this game made me a die hard USC fan. A sporting event changed the way I looked at life, school and sports because one man wanted me to see what it was like to be part of something so much greater than yourself.
Thus, although it would take me 20 years, I would finally get the opportunity to be a Trojan by beginning my Masters program in the Fall of 2017 at USC.
Unfortunately, my guru of USC sports died a few months ago. But although Rumy is not here to see me live the dream that he instilled in me so long ago, I know he is looking down from the bleachers above, screaming at the top of his lungs, Fight On!