Trojan Marching Band Travel Fund
In 1987 a USC Trojans team led by future NFL quarterback Rodney Peete lost their season opener at Michigan State by two touchdowns. After the game, first year coach Larry Smith vowed the Trojans would never go on the road again without The Spirit of Troy supporting them in the stands. Though it was his first game as head coach, he had seen the Trojan Marching Band take over a football stadium a few times before… from the other sideline.
In 1980, the entire band had traveled to Tucson for the Trojans’ first visit to Arizona Stadium. It was Larry Smith’s first season as coach of the Wildcats. When he saw (and heard) the band enter the stadium, he recalled later, he knew right then his Wildcats weren’t going to win. The band epitomized the Trojan mystique, the tradition and swagger. Arizona just couldn’t compete with that.
Director Dr. Arthur C. Bartner honored Coach Smith’s request back in 1987 and has never since considered missing a game. Now 24 years and 4 coaches later, the band has faithfully supported the Trojans at 300 games. From Honolulu to Happy Valley and from the Orange Bowl to their second home in the Rose Bowl, band members have traveled over 280,000 miles (or more than 11 times around the world).
Whether by bus, plane, or even train, The Spirit of Troy will get to a Trojan football game by any means necessary. In the early days of the streak, the band bussed 1,150 miles to Seattle to play the Huskies. To get back to Notre Dame every other year, the nearly 350 band members and staff are split onto multiple flights to Chicago. In 2009, it took six.
No matter how they get there, band members take the maxim “Getting there is half the fun” to heart. For the annual Weekender trip to the Bay Area, band members dress in costumes to fit themes they choose for each of the seven buses. And every diehard Trojan fan knows to dine at Gino’s East in Downtown Chicago the Thursday night before the game against the Irish for the annual silverware and plate performance by the USC Drumline.
During the streak, the band has performed for over 19.5 million college football fans. Only about half of these have been Trojan fans. The other 10 million are not happy to see The Spirit of Troy march into their stadiums. While USC football players are escorted on and off the field without coming face-to-face with fans, the band must march through enemy tailgates and stand in hostile sections, bearing the brunt of the fans’ anti-USC hostility.
Trojan band members wouldn’t have it any other way. They enjoy infuriating the stadium every time they raise their horns to blast “Tribute to Troy.” And despite the abuse that rains down on them for three hours, it’s all worth it when, after a hard-fought win, players approach the USC section with fingers raised as they play “Conquest!”
This season the Trojan Marching Band celebrates its 300th consecutive Trojan football game in the Coliseum versus Syracuse Coinciding with the milestone, The Spirit of Troy is proud to announce the first step in a multi-year effort to secure the high standards Trojan fans have come to expect during Dr. Bartner’s over four decades as director.
As part of the Dr. Bartner Legacy Endowment, the Trojan Marching Band Travel Fund has been started to finance the band’s yearly football trips. Although the TMB does receive some support from USC Athletics and USC Student Affairs, the travel budget has not changed much since 1980, seven years before the streak began. The bulk of the $325,000 it takes to travel to each game every year is raised by Dr. Bartner and the band. With the constantly rising cost of travel, the fundraising effort becomes more difficult each year.
With the support of loyal Trojan alumni, the Trojan Marching Band will be able to continue the great tradition began by Coach Smith 24 seasons ago. That way, upcoming generations of Trojans – football, band, and fan – can celebrate with victory signs in the air across the country for years to come.