USC

Tommy Trojan and its Knights: What goes into guarding USC’s mascot?

A peek into the Trojan Knights: energy drinks, adrenaline and school spirit.

Picture this: Tommy Trojan standing tall, sword in hand, covered in blue and completely bruin-ed.

Thanks to the Trojan Knights, that’s never going to happen. Whether in the sweltering heat or the biting cold—during a bustling class-ridden day or the middle of the night—the Trojan Knights can be found listening to music, doing school work and most importantly, keeping an eye out for the enemy.

Guardians of tradition, protectors of the Troy spirit and defenders of cardinal and gold, the student organization annually gathers the week of the highly anticipated UCLA-USC football game. The Knights spend seven days camping out next to a wrapped Tommy Trojan to protect the sacred monument from threatening UCLA egg-throwers, water-balloon bandits and whatever outlandish source of vandalism our rivals can get their hands on.

You might be wondering how the Trojan Knights are able to survive the tumultuous stretch of time spent guarding the statue. To find out, we interviewed members to tell us about what spending a week outside is like.

“The first two or three days is just figuring out how to stay in the cold – no one has sleeping bags, no cots, everyone just has sweaters,” Ruben Nunez, a junior majoring in math and economics, said. “You get sick after, like, four or five days.”

Last year, Nunez stayed every night for the entire week, explaining that his love for the Trojan Knights is ultimately what got him through it.

“We’ve been doing this since the forties…and when you’re upright here at 2 or 3 a.m., you feel this strange connection to the past,” Nunez said.

In desperate times, energy drinks, catered food and the bathrooms at Bovard come to the rescue of the knight-watchers. Their efforts are paying off, and the proof is in the unmarred Tommy Trojan.

“We had people come last year and try some funny business, but thankfully through our persuasive powers and the number of people who camp out here from day to day, it’s not a problem,” Will Chambers, a senior studying philosophy, politics and law, said. “Normally just the sight of this encampment is enough to drive [people] away.”

But is the rivalry all bark and no bite? Chambers, who has guarded Tommy Trojan for 15 nights since joining the student organization, hinted at past battles.

“I’d ask you to go back and look at records of pumpkins and paint being thrown on the Bruin bear,” Chambers said.

Beyond guarding Tommy Trojan, the week is a time for members to connect with one another and take a break from academic stress.

“It’s honestly just kind of a moment to be fun,” Hudi Potash, a junior studying political science, said. “I feel like this is really just a week where you’re meant to enjoy your time.”

The club, which was founded in 1921, celebrated their 100th year anniversary last year, allowing alumni and current students to connect with each other and see the tangible legacy the organization has left.

“Seeing people from the fifties, sixties come back and interact and be able to talk about the same traditions has just been really, really gratifying to me,” Chambers said.

The Knights remain hopeful of USC’s victory against the Bruins in the long awaited rivalry football game.