While the University of Southern California football team's nickname is the Trojans, its official mascot is a regal white horse named Traveler, who parades around the stadium before games, during halftime, and after the team scores. The Trojan warrior who rides Traveler has no official identity; he is simply a nameless figure that exemplifies the warrior spirit of Troy and guides the beautiful white horse around the stadium.
Traveler also makes appearances at charity events, local Los Angeles high schools, and has been featured in the last 45 Rose Parades. Former players claim that Traveler inspires them, and a school legend claims that O.J. Simpson chose to play for USC after seeing the horse parading around the L.A. Coliseum on television after the Trojans scored a touchdown. While Traveler gallops around the stadium after the Trojans score and during post-game victory celebrations, the USC band plays "Conquest." The song is a famous victory march composed by Alfred Newman, which was originally featured in the swashbuckling conquistador film "The Captain From Castile," starring Tyrone Power, and is also one of many school songs for the USC Trojans.
The key aspects to know about USC football's official mascot, Traveler :
1.) First Appearance at a USC Football Game: 1961, USC vs. Georgia Tech at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
2.) First Rider for Traveler: Richard Saukko, owner of Traveler I, agreed to ride his white horse around the L.A. Memorial Coliseum track at USC Trojans home games after he was seen riding Traveler I in the 1961 Rose Parade at the beginning of that year.
3.) First Riding Outfit: Richard Saukko wore the actual warrior costume used by Charlton Heston in the film "Ben Hur" for the first year he rode Traveler at USC football games. He made a new outfit for the 1962 season, but still wore Charlton Heston's "Ben Hur" helmet.
4.) First Trainer For Traveler: Richard Saukko's wife (now widow), Patricia Saukko DeBernardi, trained the various Traveler mascots until she retired in 2002.
5.) Traveler I Breed: The first Traveler rode by Richard Saukko was a white and light-gray mixed-breed Arabian and Tennessee Walker.
6.) Current Traveler Mascot: The current mascot is Traveler VII, who is a white Andalusian.
7.) Current Riders For Traveler VII: Hector Aguilar is one of the current riders dressed as a mighty Trojan warrior atop Traveler VII. Richard Saukko's stepson, Chuck O'Donnell, also rides Traveler VII, trading riding duties with Aguilar.
8.) Current Trainer For Traveler VII: Joanne Asman, an entertainment executive in Burbank, Calif., with over 15 years of horse training experience, took over as Traveler's trainer in 2003.
9.) Traveler Breeding Endowment: Bill and Nadine Tilley donated $2 million to form an endowment for supporting Traveler. Nadine Tilley breeds Andalusian horses at the couple's ranch in Hemet, Calif., called Tilley's Andalusians, and which is now known as "The Home of Traveler."
10.) Traveler Breeds Through The Years: Other breeds in the line of Travelers in USC history were pure-bred white Arabians, and pure-bred white Tennessee Walkers.
11.) Motion Pictures Traveler Has Appeared In: Various Traveler horses have appeared in such films as "The Battle of the Gunfighter," "Road to El Dorado," "Snowfire," and "The Asia Music Awards,"as well as many appearances with celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, Janet Jackson, Lee Anne Rimes, and Fabio.
12.) Former Riders For Traveler Through The Years: After Richard Saukko retired in 1988, several other people rode Traveler during USC football games prior to Hector Aguilar taking the reigns. This list includes Cass Debbs, Ardeshir Radpour, Rick Oas, and Tom Nolan.
More USC Trojans Football From This Contributor:
Steven Holmes is a Los Angeles resident and season ticket holder for the USC Trojans.
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