Here’s a Q&A with Shane Foley (USC quarterback 1986-90) who hosted an event last week with his wife Farrell to help benefit the Trojan Marching Band, which is self-funded under efforts led by Dr. Arthur C. Bartner.
WeAreSC: Tell us about the event, how it came about, and what is the purpose.
Foley: This past Sunday was the 2nd annual Dr. Bartner and the Spirit of Troy’s march to 50 years at our home in La Canada Flintridge. I have had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Bartner better over the last 10 years reconnecting with him initially as a past player. He has regularly asked me to get up and be part of his programs on the road and locally at rallies whether it was planned or spontaneous. As we spent more time together, I told him that my wife and I would be happy to have an event at our home to help promote the best marching band in the country. As I learned more about the dynamics of USC Trojan Marching Band, I was surprised to learn that the Band has largely been self-funded over the decades and not by USC. Dr. Bartner has created the incomparable and inspirational USC Trojan Marching Band that we know today. The Spirit of Troy is the lifeblood of the university and they have supported Athletics and every group within USC for the last four decades under Dr. Bartner’s leadership.
WeAreSC: Working with Dr Bartner on this project, how has that been?
Foley: I believe that Dr. Bartner has always been a perfectionist and a tireless worker. To be the best, you have to demand the best. It has been incredible to see him still going strong at 77 years old and 47 years of dedication to USC. During my days in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I will always have memories coming off of the practice field as a player in the evenings later in the fall with the sun setting and the Band practicing on Cromwell Field and invariably, they would march toward us and play to us as we came off the field. As former players, alumni, and fans, we love the continuous playing of Fight On, Tribute to Troy during the course of our games and of course, there in nothing better than hearing Conquest at the end of the game. It was always great to win on the road, often in a hostile environment, to find our Band in the stadium and go to them as a team. Just our like our football team, our Band never backed down! Dr. Bartner has given 47 years of his life to the University of Southern California and his legacy must not be forgotten. There are four initiatives that Dr. Bartner is focused on: 1) Travel endowment (it costs over $1MM just to travel all 300 Band members to Notre Dame for one game!) 2) Uniforms – the Band members often pass their uniforms down for multiple years 3) Instruments are recycled and 4) Scholarships. At our event, we did not limit where people were donating to but we primarily focused on uniforms for this year’s event and we were able to quantify costs for the different parts of the uniforms- i.e.. Entire uniform, helmets, capes, etc.
WeAreSC: What is the itinerary of the day, what takes place?
Foley: It is a three hour event and it was the 2nd year of hosting at our home. We have a 5-year commitment of this event which will take him to 2020 which is when he will retire (at age 80!) We have it in our back yard and it is a family friendly event. We started this year’s event at 1 pm with check in taking place for the first 30-45 minutes. We provide food and drinks for 300 people and we also have a bouncy house, balloons, etc. for the kids. Costumes were also welcomed for the kids since it was the day before Halloween this year. The Band starts up in the 2nd hour and they march in from the street and down to a flat area on our property. They bring 40 members of the Band, the Drum Major, four Song Girls, and two or three silks. After a few songs, Dr. Bartner hands me the microphone so that I can welcome everyone. I also talked to the crowd briefly about why we have volunteered our home and what our vision is for helping in this important cause in the present and in the future. I also talked about the impact that the presence of the Band had on us as players, especially on the road in tough environments. Dr. B then goes on with a couple more tunes and he also provided some history of the uniforms over time dating back to his inception in 1970 and the evolution and timeline as to what the Band looks like today. I don’t have final numbers yet but he had roughly 175 people and we would like to grow it over the next few years to 300 with Trojans that want to enjoy a great and relaxing day and that also want to help.
WeAreSC: Any notable moments?
Foley: It is a very unique event and the whole thing is very memorable. Our goal is for everyone to come out and enjoy the best Marching Band, bar none, in the country in a comfortable, relaxed environment with friends. It was a great Trojan Sunday afternoon and we welcome other Trojans to enjoy this unique experience with us next year! We had about 10 former players that came back and I am hopeful that we can continue to grow the awareness and support the cause over the next three years. My wife and I are very aware of all of the important causes that are out there today but we recognize that this incredible Band cannot and must not be taken for granted. Dr. Bartner’s vision and creation of the USC Marching Band needs to be supported and we are honored to do our small part with hosting this annual event. The Spirit of Troy is a fundamental part of the university and the emotion, pride, and tradition that has been established by Dr. Bartner must live on into perpetuity. Fight On Trojan Family!