Last summer, during the Kick Off Picnic, my grandkids were wandering around looking for someone to sign their SC footballs. The lines were long for the "stars.” My grandson Cole noticed a young man standing alone who was smaller than the rest and didn't have a line. He welcomed the little boys and I caught a photo of him signing the football. He shook their hands and said his name was "Mario" and he was "the kicker.” We said, "Good luck this year" and went on our way. I'll never forget how modest and unassuming he was.
My Memory of Mario Danelo
I did not really know Mario, but one of my greatest memories of all my time in the Herd was with Mario Danelo. It happened at the Fall Scrimmage Herd Walk.
When the Herd was making the Trojan Walk with the team, I was in awe of everything. I walked in with Mario. As we were walking through the crowd of people, I didn't know exactly what to do. All the little kids were holding up there hands for high-fives. I was just looking around, with my hands at my side. Mario told me, "High-five them." I told him that I was a nobody. Mario then said, "Look, I'm just a kicker, nobody knows who I am. Now if I high-five the kids, it will make their day." He had a huge grin on his face. I did as I was told and high-fived some of the kids. As we went through the gate, he told me "Did you see the look on their faces? THAT is what it's all about."
I know it's just one little thing, but it sure said something about the character of the man. I felt honored to have met him, even if it was just for a few minutes. My deepest condolences to the Danelo Family. Fight On Mario.
A Mario Danelo Story
By Jay Cee
After one of the spring practices, the players were coming off of the field and kids were rushing to get autographs. One of my daughters walked up to this smallish guy who, of course, was Mario Danelo, and asked him for his autograph on her jersey. He said, "Are you sure, I'm just the kicker". My kid says , "Yeah, but you're part of them." Pete Carroll was within earshot and yelled, "Well, kind of!", and everyone around got a big laugh.
When my daughter’s friends or cousins would look at the jersey with all the signatures, inevitably one would say, "Who's this Mario Danelo?" and she would have to explain who he was. During the season, when we would watched the games at the Coliseum or on TV, and when he would kick the PAT or a field goal, we'd all point at her and say, "There's your boy!" at which point she'd always laugh and give the fight on.
We found out last night about the tragic news and my daughter really feels it. When you have a connection to somebody, death really hits hard. RIP Mario and Fight On! You were and will always be a BIG part of the USC Trojan Family.
By Cardinal Blood
The Danelos live two streets down from me so I have always talked with Mario at practice about good old Pedro! He got a kick out of me yelling "SAN PEDRO" as loud as I could whenever he came down the tunnel.
Some of his family have eaten at my folks Restaurant on Catalina when we owned it. I met his folks and his grandparents in Washington DC on the bus because I had a Catalina shirt on and they recognized it. I really liked the kid and his family. His friends told me how stoked they were to watch their buddy make his kicks. They would get really excited. You could tell they loved their friend.
He Always Had a Smile
By Trojan Russ
I didn't know Mario Danelo, but I felt like I did. Any time a walk on earns a scholarship, there's always a certain amount of pride and respect for the player: pride for having achieved his goal and dream, and respect for him and his family that he was willing to foot an enormous bill for a chance to live his dream, and his family let him. I just read an article someone linked down below from last season that talked about this (link provided here at the bottom), and it saddened me to no end.
My seats are down in the very front row of the Coliseum right next to the tunnel where the players for both teams enter and exit the field. All the players run by us as they come onto or leave the field. After games, we always stay in our seats to talk to and congratulate the players as they leave the field. We always get a few of the players to jump up into the stands after a game. We do this by calling players' names and motioning them to come over. Mario was not one of those guys who would jump into the stands. But he always recognized us when we called to him as he was leaving the field, and he always had a smile on his face and a "V" in the air for us. I think it pleased him that people wanted him to come over, and that people even knew what his number was.
So, it is very sad to me as I write this that I will not get to see him run by us with a smile on his face and his fingers in the air. I like to think that he was saving his jump into the crowd for his senior year after a game-winning kick against UCLA. Unfortunately, that will never happen.
From the Goyan Family
"God Bless the Danelo Family and Friends. Our Thoughts and Prayers are with you."
Michael and Kimberly Goyan
Little "M" & Gabriella
The Arkansas Game
I loved it when Arkansas had just scored and tried three time-outs to freeze him right before half. And Mario, with that sweet stroke of his, just knocked it through on final play of half to keep momentum in our corner! RIP Mario, a Trojan forever.