Hail to the Chief
HOTW - SDTroy (Ray Weber)
In an ideal world or on an ideal blog, there would be a category for those one-of-a-kind Trojan fans. A level of fandom that some of us would aspire to but only a few such elite Herdmembers could qualify for. (photo right: Ray and girlfriend Carol) The Herd could have a naming contest like we’ve done with T-shirts in the past and throw out such titles as Grand PooBah Herd Superfan or Monster Trojan Fan God. Last week’s CardinalBlood would definitely have met the criteria and qualified to be bestowed the new fake title of UltraHerder, and this week’s Herder of the Week, SDTroy or Ray Weber (his real name) would also be one of the few, the proud, the great Trojan fans that only come along once in a generation. Ray seems to be one of those diehards that are at almost all Trojan events be it a football game, basketball game or baseball game, and that doesn’t necessarily make him special, but he is doing it all the way from San Diego, which does make him unique.
The thing about the Herd is that it was formed on the Trojan message boards, and to get on the message boards you have to have a moniker, a nickname, an alias, and though many of us know SDTroy on the boards, he is more widely known as Ray Weber, President of the San Diego Trojan Club. The Trojan Club Presidents are very busy and involved individuals, for it is practically a second full time job, and if Ray is not planning to have Darrell Rideaux, for example, as a speaker at a luncheon, he is planning a bus trip from San Diego for Trojan fans to enjoy USC football, basketball, baseball and/or volleyball.
Brooks Wilson, who used to live in Fallbrook, and still attends a lot of the San Diego Trojan Club luncheons commuting from Rancho Cucamonga said of Ray, “He is very supportive of the Herd. When we attend a SDTC dinner, he always sets up the Herd with a prime table and then in his introductions he always mentions the Herd and we get some nice words from him. Ray never misses a chance to boost the Herd. On top of that, he is just a great guy and a great Trojan.”
Ray is a great Trojan. As stated above, if he isn’t supporting the USC teams in person, he is planning events to get multiple fans from out of town to support our athletic teams and players, and for these reasons among many others, Ray Weber (SDTroy) is our Herder of the Week.
How did you became a USC fan?
This is always an interesting question because I grew up back on Long Island, in NY, and had never had any ties whatsoever to USC, OC or Los Angeles. I kind of was an 'all sports' kid that grew up in the snow and watched the Trojans on NY Day and for other big games on NATIONAL TV. I came to San Diego in 1978 and worked in Prof. Soccer [the old NASL, SD Sockers of Indoor fame] and gradually experienced the Rose Bowl, Olympics, the Forum and other LA venues. While at Qualcomm Stadium in the early '80's I met Paul McDonald and also Tom Kelly, who did some Charger radio for a few years too. I was a KNX listener too in the early '80's I 'd tune in the Trojans and loved the broadcasts. My first game at the COLISEUM was in Nov. '87, as a Bruin friend got us seats with the Rose Bowl on the line. Peete to Affolter put USC in the Rose Bowl and that was it. I was hooked on the pageantry, history, people, quality, etc. I had a feeling on that day 20 years ago, that the Coliseum would be to me as an adult, what Yankee Stadium and MSG were to me as a boy! I was very right as it's turned out!!
Tell us how you used to support USC, watch games, etc., before you discovered the Herd?
For years between 1987- 2000, I'd head up to a few [big] games a year. I had little of the 'fun' connection, as I did it on my own but in my early years I didn't even know of Heritage Hall and I really lacked passionate Trojan fans, friends or alum to share the experience with or to help educate me. I'd sit in different sections while becoming a Trojan fan and it always bothered me that we couldn't be more unified as a fan base especially in some of those lean years. I was more than ready for the Herd to come along as my passion for Trojan athletics kept growing!
I've never asked you where you grew up. If you've been a local California kid all your life, did you have personal experience with other local kids going to USC to play football?
As mentioned, I grew up in NY and have now lived in San Diego for 29 years. When it comes to my love for USC, I've just followed my heart. It has been a wonderful growth experience and the great football aside, the Herd has helped me to continue to grow, i.e., travel, friendship, social interaction. Lot's of energy too! Everyone has there own amazing story!
You are the President of the San Diego Trojan Club. How did you get involved in doing that? And what has that experience meant to you? You're always promoting great lunches and dinners with USC superstars, and you're also organizing bus trips for San Diego Trojans to see football games, basketball games, etc. Give us some insight of the responsibilities of a Trojan Club president, and I know your term is ending this summer, so also tell us what you'll miss about your position?
About 10 years ago, I met SD Trojans like Don Clausen and Jerry Ringer who were pillars of the Club down here. They recognized my passion for USC and asked me to be part of the Trojan Club of San Diego. At first, I was a bit shy and hesitant of the time commitment and also the fact that I was a non alum [I graduated from the University of Tampa , 1976] but they made me feel welcome. We're all volunteers that greet traveling USC teams when in SD, we plan Luncheons and Dinners with superb Trojans of the past, plan the Gameday Bus to the Coliseum, and more. It's a superb feeling to help to make a difference and to be able to serve the Trojan family!
One of the annual highlights is introducing Coach Carroll at the annual Coaches Dinner down here in front of over 400 Trojans at the Marriott! I also enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of other USC student athletes like Rowing, Women's Tennis, and Baseball , just to name a few, when we are there to cheer for them raise a bit of money and just to remind them that they play of for and represent , the most storied Collegiate Athletic program in the United States ! We are one of 10 Trojan Clubs that work directly with HERITAGE HALL. We have a 34 year history, Trojan Clubs seek volunteers, have NO local dues and one does not have to be an alum to join . I took a 2 year term in June 2003, and 2 years later I was asked to serve for another 2 years and I was honored and accepted. My term ends in about 90 days and I'll stay on the Board here and serve in various ways, kind of similar to how I help now.
Additionally, can you share with us some of your highlights as a Trojan Club president? Who are some of your favorite speakers? And did you spearhead any projects that you're particularly prood of?
We have had so many highlights in these last few years and I'm lucky to have been President with USC Football on top, the Galen Center opening, my being part of the Herd and so much more! I've tried to steer our Club out of the past so to speak and into the future and there are always challenges. We've done real well with fund raising for USC Athletics but we've built on our solid past and really increased our turnouts and participation with regard to luncheons, buses [from one to two for ea. home game] and in general we've really served the SD Trojan fanbase and helped to make Trojans feel special about being Trojans! We've had so many fine speakers at our Events. Don Clausen, who is ill but 'Fighting On !', initiated the TCSD Luncheon program 16 years ago and Duane Bickett has been very special to always help each year as our MC! Otis Page, John Jackson, Ron Mix, Pete Arbogast, Darrell Rideaux, Paul Salata, Ron Fletcher and Craig Fertig, have all been wonderful and all share their Trojan history. I can't tell you how much fun it all is! [See www.sandiegotrojanclub.com] . Please attend our Events if anyone is down this way!
Can you briefly summarize your experience finding the USC message boards, and to follow that up, how did you feel when the topics on TFO turned to the lack of fan support in the Coliseum, and grew into the formation of the Herd?
I enjoy the message boards in my own way and check on them daily. I like to offer information on the 19 various USC teams and our Club doin's and look for USC history and information too. I loved the 'taking back of the Coliseum' and formation of the Herd, in fact I wish it happened years before it did. I grew up a passionate sports fan in NY and love the Coliseum but it shouldn't be a 'library' when our Men of Troy hit that field! The team needs to feed off of the fans and many fans want to sit and feed off of the team. Also, EVERYONE needs to be dressed in CARDINAL. Period.
You've always been one of the biggest supporters of the Herd, though you sit in Section 11 just above the Herd, but you're qualified as a Herdmember nonetheless. What has the Herd experience been like for you, from your perspective a few rows above the madness? And what were your first impressions of the Herd during the San Jose State game and the whole season after that?
I wasn't a season ticket holder in ‘01 but as I sat in a few different sections, I could view the Herd and it looked Like FUN! I was sitting above the TMB in # 24 when Carson scored the winning TD in ot vs. OSU in Oct. ‘01, and I recall the mob scene near the pylon in front of the Herd ! By 2002, I bought 4 season tickets and was assigned Row 21, just slightly above where a lot of the standing ceases. I'm fine to stand, a lot of the people above us prefer to sit, so Row 21 is a bit of a cutoff of sorts. EVERYONE up on 3rd down though! No excuses! This is not a library! I have a good view from Row 21 and I can see all sorts of behavior and also if any Herders are 'slacking off!! ' I also am C+G and have for 4 seats over in Section 4 , but as I've told MPRon, my girlfriend Carol, and friend OB, all who love Section 11 and the tunnel....''Of course we'll still be in the Herd!''
Are there any special moments that you've shared with the Herd that you'll always remember? At the Coliseum, a tailgate, an away game?
So many great Herd memories and many friends that I bring up to games are TRULY amazed at the unity and friendships! I'd say Ryan, inviting us to his TAILGATE at Penn State game in NJ. My buddy from Raleigh, NC was so impressed and how about the freezing cold morning in Las Vegas, Christmas Day '01! Those early days were very special! You knew whose heart was in it! I love the away game tailgates like Bay Area and Arizona too. You can travel and feel the love! I don't always make it to pregame Herd tailgates but have been to some postgame tailgates, late into the night. It's always cool when the players walk through and stop for a photo with us!
You are one of the only Herders that make almost every Herd event whether it's a basketball game, a hockey game, a football event. What has the Trojan experience and the Herd experience meant to you? And to follow up on that, how have you enjoyed being a member of the extended Herd family?
I try to put in the miles and time to make as many USC Events and Herd Events as my schedule allows and I'm from the school that says 'support any and all USC athletes and teams the wear the Cardinal and Gold!' I want to see Dedeaux and Galen full with USC fans, like the Coliseum is. I'd love to see the Herd rock all 19 USC teams at one time or another! The teams, Coaches and parents love us and maybe kind of expect a visit or two. I can and do really appreciate all of the fine effort and planning of ALL Herd Events [esp. as a Pres of a TC].
The Herd and Trojan experience is hard to put into a few words. I'll try though, ''God is a Trojan!'' Marv Goux's license plate read...USA-USC." As Jerry Ringer likes to say, ''It's great to be a Trojan , it's always been great to be a Trojan and it always will be great to be a Trojan!''
What do you see for the Herd as it moves forward? And what are your final thoughts about your Herd experience.
As far as the Herd and all USC Boosters...Always take the high road when representing our team. Cheer for each player from all teams as they head up the tunnel postgame. USC is about class , so we should always remember that we are representing the University too. The HERD is the best thing to come along in decades and has truly woken up the Coliseum. Every section of the Coliseum looks to us for leadership and inspiration when the game is on the line as did Shaun Cody on 4th down vs. Cal in '04. Past players like Otis Page have been a Herder and his past teammates loved it when he told them that he was 'in!''
Thanks so very much to all of the individual and group contributions from Herders and from the Herd and to the core people that keep us going ! These are memories that will last a lifetime and I'll always link the HERD with the reemergence of USC Trojan Football back to dominance !
''Fight On and On Herd!''