After an unexplained hiatus during the 2019-2020 basketball season, the USC Song Girls returned to the Galen Center’s sidelines for the Trojan’s first game against Villanova on Oct. 18. This was their first appearance at a basketball game since their removal by previous USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann during the 2018-2019 season.
Hilary Hodgkins, the Song Girls’ alumni adviser, expressed her excitement at the reinstitution of the acclaimed dance group.
“I think I speak for the Song Girl Alumnae and Trojan fans in saying that we are thrilled that the USC Song Girls are back in the Galen Center supporting the USC Trojan Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams,” said Hilary Hodgkins.
Swann did not cite any direct reasons as to why he decided to discontinue Song Girls’ performances at basketball games last year, according to the LA Times. A statement from his department while he was in office cited “ongoing game management concerns, time constraints and space issues at the Galen Center” as reasons for their decision to bar the Song Girls from performing.
Sarah Alegre, a senior returning Song Girl, described the team’s collective confusion as to why USC athletics prohibited them from performing during last year’s basketball season.
“[Their reasoning] just wasn’t really communicated to us,” Alegre said. “It was just suddenly we’re in basketball, and then suddenly we weren’t, which we were bummed out about at the time. One day we showed up to practice and we were told that we were no longer going to be in the basketball season.”
Even though the Song Girls were disheartened by their removal from the Galen Center, Alegre did detail their newfound ability to offer their spirit to other teams within Trojan athletics.
“We got to use that experience to get involved in other things,” Alegre said. “We always did things like baseball, and volleyball, but with being kicked out of basketball, we were able to do all of those sports and which was a lot of fun.”
The LA Times published an article alleging that competition between the Song Girls and Trojan Dance Force for time on the court as a possible reason for the Song Girls’ inability to perform last year.
However, Kayla Folts, Captain of the Trojan Dance Force, expressed her excitement at the reinstatement of the Song Girls at the Galen Center.
“As far as their return this year, I have no issue with the Song Girls being there,” Folts said. “I always love to celebrate my fellow dancers, and at the end of the day we are all cheering for USC.
Alegre explained that she hopes both dance teams will sustain the positive relationship they have had in the past.
“I think Dance Force is an amazing dance team and we’re totally different in regards to style and what we bring to the table,” Alegre said. “I think mutually we both just respect each other, respect to what we do, and respect that it’s different.”
Annenberg Media reached out to USC athletics for comment on the situation. They confirmed the Song Girls will be back at Galen Center this season, but declined to comment on why the group was not able to perform last year.