My earliest vivid memory of USC football was January 1, 1975. My grandfather Jack Levand graduated from Ohio State University where he had been on the track team with Jesse Owens. An active member and later President of the Big Ten Club of Southern California, my grandfather would always buy a block of tickets for the family whenever Ohio State was playing in the Rose Bowl. In 1975, Ohio State was playing USC and I was attending the game with my grandparents and my mom. My mom had earned her bachelor's degree in physical therapy from USC and was a huge fan of USC athletics.
I still remember USC's late fourth quarter touchdown drive culminating with McKay's 38 yard touchdown catch and then Pat Haden's pass to Shelton Diggs on the two point conversion that gave USC the lead. And I vividly remember Ohio State's futile attempt to regain the lead culminating with a final 62 yard field goal attempt falling short. USC won the UPI National Championship and thus began my lifelong and ongoing passion for USC (youtube/espn classic video of the 1975 Rose Bowl).
I watched and attended games throughout the years and when the time came to choose a college, USC was my first choice and my mom lobbied my father to support and fund that decision rather than cheaper (although I did get some scholarships making it easier to afford) and less geographically desirable alternatives. Of course, I had been born into a Trojan family (my father earned his MD from USC) so it wasn't that difficult to sell.
So off I went to USC where I was just another passionate SC fan, who always knew more about USC football than just about every other football fan, or so I thought. And not only did I get to attend USC football games, but I got to go to practices, plus hang out with and get to know the players.
Following graduation I entered the business world and continued to attend games and closely follow USC football. Then the internet came along and I remember the earliest days of browsers and the World Wide Web. One day I found a forum (later to evolve into Trojan Football Online) where a USC student named Arvind would share insights with other USC fans. That's when I realized there were many others out there just like me with a deep passion for USC football. Now we had a place to meet and converse at any time, rather than just at games on the actual day of the sporting events.
While brainstorming about the amazing possibilities of the future, I realized I should start registering domain names. The thought occurred to me that along with several business names I registered (my day job now and another web site I host, that unlike this web site has been frequently cited in the media), that I might check to see if common USC names had been taken. I was pleasantly surprised to find that no one had yet registered fighton.com, so in 1996 I figured why not grab it so I could make sure that it was used appropriately.
My mom passed away in 2005. It was a tragic occurrence for my family and many others that my mother touched during her life time. But I am honored to be able to host this web site in her honor, so that countless current and future Trojan fans can pursue their interest and enjoy being a USC fan, the same joy and passion that my mother nurtured in me.
One of the bittersweet memories I shared with mom during her final few months was watching the 2005 Orange Bowl, more than once. One of the complications of the my mom's condition was she had some short-term memory loss. At the time we didn't know if mom, had days, weeks, or months to live. She was living with one of my sisters and I brought the tape over after the game and we watched as much as she could. The bittersweet part was that for several weeks after that my mom would wake up, and ask my sister when I was coming over to watch the game with her. The tumors in her brain were playing tricks on her mind and she was forgetting day to day events, yet she kept waking up day after day with the excitement and anticipation of watching USC play football (having completely forgotten that she already had watched the game).
From the bigger picture we feel fortunate that we at least got to spend three years with mom after her diagnosis of cancer (initially we were told she probably had only 6-9 months). She lived to see two more Trojan Heisman Trophy winners, and two more National Championships. But more importantly, she lived to see the birth of my daughter (her 8th grandchild), plus in the following two years she got to see the birth of her 9th grandchild, and she got to see my daughter and first son grow up (and to see me grow up as a parent).
During her last year mom went through what must have been tremendous pain. But some of the biggest smiles I saw from my mom were watching USC games and when I'd update her on the latest USC news, like the day Matt Leinart won the Heisman. It's somewhat ironic that my first memories of USC athletics and my mom's last memories were during the best of times. Both National Championships that are etched in the minds of so many.
So for all my fellow Trojan fans, this site is for you, a gift from my mom and I. A place where you never have to remember URLs or bookmarks. Just a simple home base and launch pad where you are sure to find many other Trojans throughout the world getting caught up and chatting about the latest news and events regarding USC and its athletic programs.
I owe my mom an enormous debt for teaching me the true meaning of "fight on" (among so many other things). Hopefully a few more of you can benefit from this web site and my mom's inspiration as well.
Your host Gary, proud son of Ellen Levand
Last update 12/4/2013. Copyright © 2010 FightOn.com