Among the hundreds of thousands who tuned in Saturday afternoon, Sept. 2, to watch their beloved University of Southern California Trojans play their second game of the 2023 season was a small but passionate group of fans in Rancho Mission Viejo.
Inside the Reata Glen retirement living complex’s clubhouse, a group of 27—mostly seniors—gathered to cheer on No. 6-ranked USC as the Trojans dismantled Nevada at home, 66-14.
It’s a relatively new tradition that began roughly a year ago, as Reata Glen residents Edwina Broderick and Carol Pangburn aspired to create a community of like-minded people who could spend time together and watch their favorite team.
“I met (Pangburn) here, who was from SC, and she said to me, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to watch the first game (of 2022) here in the Cantina?’, and I said, ‘Yeah!’ ” Broderick, 87, recalled. “She said, ‘Well, I’m going to Alaska, so could you organize it?’ So, that’s how I ended up being the chairman.”
Word of the small group spread, as residents found out through listed biographies that other people went to USC or happened upon the group after coming down for dinner service.
Usually, a group between 18 and 22 people show up on each gameday, according to Broderick, with the numbers fluctuating based on the game time or the importance of the Trojans’ opponent in a particular week.
She added that 26 congregated to watch USC quarterback Caleb Williams essentially clinch his Heisman Trophy against Notre Dame last season, and her friend, Darlene Kelly, 85, said people watched USC play crosstown rival UCLA in the clubhouse’s auditorium.
“When you have a common interest, you gravitate to the people that have the same interest that you have,” said Broderick. “I mean, we even went to one of the games last year; we went to the homecoming game. (The group) just gets bigger and bigger.”
Although both women are USC alumni, having graduated in the Class of 1959, there’s no restriction to who can come and watch. Half of the attendees also went to the school, or have children or grandchildren who attended USC or are currently attending, and others are simply lifelong fans.
“They’re not all alumni, but they all have a connection (in) some way,” Broderick said.
Throughout all the other Heisman winners who graced USC’s campus over the years, the national championships, and other big games, Broderick and Kelly have seen the Trojans win a lot. The favorite memory for both occurred on Oct. 15, 2005, during the game forever known for the “Bush Push.”
No. 1 USC was battling archrival No. 9 Notre Dame on the Fighting Irish’s campus in South Bend, Indiana, and the Trojans were driving to take the lead with a few seconds remaining when the stadium clock operator let the last seven seconds tick off the clock. The Notre Dame faithful stormed the field, believing they had just knocked off the top team in the country.
That was not to be, as the officials righted the mistake and gave USC another chance to save its season. With quarterback Matt Leinart locked in a scrum in front of the goal line, running back Reggie Bush gave him a push that propelled Leinart into the end zone for a score and earned USC the win.
“I was sitting with three other women in the Notre Dame section, and those people literally scared us; they were so nasty,” Kelly said. “I have never been in a game where SC won and I was afraid to cheer. We literally took (each other’s) hands and got out of the stadium. They were really mad.”
Another resident in attendance this past Saturday, Phil, 87, recounted USC’s great history of running backs, including Marcus Allen and O.J. Simpson, and marveled about current quarterback Caleb Williams’ abilities.
Jan Day, 82, commented on the group’s camaraderie and being able to connect with other fans. She said her favorite memories involve going to many Trojans games before and after graduating while using her family’s season tickets.
“We went to all the games, whether it was raining or not; you know, you sit there with a garbage bag over your head (if it is),” said Day. “We’re really loyal fans.”
One pair of fans watching Saturday’s game included Dalt Bordner, 87, and his 33-year-old grandson, Nick, as a way for the two to spend time together.
Not everyone’s USC fandom was created the same, which can be seen in Broderick and Kelly.
Kelly’s father graduated from the school in 1933, which meant that she was born into a Trojan family that went to many games.
“I just always loved (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum); it’s very exciting,” she said. “It’s a huge school, and I just loved the spirit there.”
In Broderick’s case, she was the first one in her family to go to college, and she came to love watching the Trojans play during her time there.
“You just look forward to every Saturday when you’re going to go to the game,” said Broderick. “My husband and I had season tickets from the time we graduated.”
The cadre of fans at Reata Glen are happy to finally see their team win regularly after a decade of disappointments, with new coach Lincoln Riley taking USC to an 11-1 record in his first year in 2022 on the way to a Pac-12 Conference championship game appearance. Now, the team and the fan base are looking to achieve more during the Trojans’ final season in the conference.
Kelly said she’s sad to see USC move on from playing its traditional opponents in Stanford and Cal, but Broderick noted that they’ll be able to see USC in better television slots going forward.
No matter the Trojans’ future, they’ll have a solid group of supporters at Reata Glen.