May 2015 (4) Candygrams

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Saturday, May 16, 2015---USC Men's Volleyball Banquet

Riley MallonTrojan Candy sat at a long table at the Men's Volleyball Banquet. A young volleyball team member sat at the other end of the table. I invited the player to move closer to my end of the table. After he did, I interviewed him. Sophomore Riley Mallon told me that he used to be a Libero, but has changed to an Outside Hitter. Riley, who is from Manhattan Beach, is majoring in International Relations. He has been playing volleyball for twelve years. In fact Riley told me that he played Club Volleyball with Bill Ferguson when he was fourteen years old. Riley also likes to play soccer, baseball and basketball. Matthew and Riley MallonWhat an athlete! In addition to playing sports, Riley loves to go to the beach. He likes to listen to Rock and Roll and Rap. His favorite food is Mexican food. Riley likes "House of Cards" that shows on Netflix. Finally, Riley mentioned an amazing fact about the men's volleyball team. In addition to Riley, seven other members of the team are in the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. The others are Robert Flowers, Tommy Leonard, Brooks Varni, Alex Slaught, Jack Yoder, Connor Inlow and Jack Wyett. FIGHT ON, Riley!

Just after I finished interviewing Riley, his dad Matthew joined our table.

Micah Christenson Next, Trojan Candy had the golden opportunity to interview Micah Christenson. Micah was sitting at a table right next to mine and the program hadn't started yet. I had to ask him questions quickly as everyone was lining up to get their food. Micah, a Senior, graduated yesterday. He majored in Human Biology and minored in Business Administration. Charlene, Micah and Bob ChristensonMicah said that he started playing volleyball with his mom using a balloon for a ball. He started playing volleyball competitively in the seventh grade. However, also in the seventh grade, his favorite sport was basketball. Then, his love for volleyball and basketball became equal. Thank goodness Micah chose USC to be his volleyball school! More personally, Micah said that he loves to go to the beach (Naturally, since he is from Hawaii!). He likes all kinds of music, but he really likes Reggae, Rhythm and Blues and Hip Hop. Micah likes to watch the "Avengers." His favorite food is his mom's fried rice. MMMmmm! Trojan Candy also took this picture of Micah with his mom Charlene and dad Bob. FIGHT ON, Micah!

The program started after lunch. It was just a few days after Head Coach Bill Ferguson was relieved from his job. Athletic Director Pat Haden made the opening remarks. He could only stay for a short time since he had to attend a wedding next and then the USC Hall of Fame dinner in the evening.

Next, the Men's Volleyball Awards were announced.

Bob Yoder and Chris Lischke
Bob Yoder, former USC Men's Volleyball Coach and 2015 USC Hall of Fame Awardee, announced the winner of his "Bob Yoder Trojan Award." The winner was Senior Chris Lischke.
Bill Stetson and Andy Benesh
Dr. Bill Stetson, President of the USC Men's Volleyball Booster Alumni Club, presented his "Bill Stetson Scholar Athlete Award" to Sophomore Andy Benesh.
Bill Stetson, Micah Christenson, and Jeff Nygaard
The last award was the "Dusty Dvorak MVP Award" which was awarded to Senior Micah Christenson by Bill Stetson and Assistant Coach Jeff Nygaard.

After the awards, the Seniors were introduced, and then there were the "Senior Remarks."

Micah ChristensonMicah Christenson went first. He said, "...that this is the closest team I have ever been on. I don't have a brother, but I have nineteen brothers from this team." Of his Senior Brothers, Micah said, "I couldn't have asked for better classmates and teammates." FIGHT ON again, Micah!

Tyler CundiffThe next Senior was Tyler Cundiff. Tyler agreed with Micah's Brotherhood statement. Then he said, "What you leave forever is not written in stone.... Everyone in this room has impacted me!" FIGHT ON, Tyler!

Senior Robert Feathers spoke next. He thanked the players, past and present. "You have touched me more than you know." Robert Feathers Then, about Fergie, Robert said, "He was a great coach. He taught me a lot. I am looking forward to the future of this program. I have tried to shape my characteristics after Jeff Nygaard." In conclusion, Robert said of the Trojan Family, "Everyone around USC. It's amazing to see what this university has given to me. I can't wait to give back." FIGHT ON, Robert!

Chris LischkeThe fourth Senior to speak was Chris Lischke. Chris said that, "USC has been home away from home. Truly, I feel at home with everyone in this room. It is an honor and privilege to be here.... I have enjoyed every second." FIGHT ON, Chris!

Cristian RiveraSenior Cristian Rivera spoke last. He said, "It was like a family reunion after every game. I learned a lot from my teammates, just by the questions they asked. Also, your teammates do pick you up." Then Cristian said this of his Senior teammates. "We were all different characters. We learned to communicate non-verbally. We developed an unbelievable bond!" FIGHT ON, Cristian!

The banquet ended with a highlight film and closing remarks.

Cristian RiveraAs everyone mingled, Trojan Candy immediately ran over to Cristian Rivera to interview him. Cristian graduated with a double major of Comparative Literature and International Relations. On why he chose USC, Cristian said that it had the best social life and the best athletics. He said that he started playing volleyball when he was thirteen. His favorite hobby is reading, and his favorite food is pizza. Cristian likes rock music the best. He said that he loves to travel. He has been to Italy, Croatia, France, Austria and Spain. At the USC Student-Athlete Graduation Celebration, Cristian, who graduated with a 3.8 GPA, was chosen as a 2015 Stevens Scholar, a David X. Marks Scholar-Athlete and the 2015 USC Renaissance Scholar. What an outstanding student! FIGHT ON again, Cristian!

Robert FeathersI was able to interview one more Senior. Robert Feathers smiled when I asked if I could interview him. He majored in Communications and minored in Business. On why he chose USC, Robert said that he has always been a USC supporter. Six of his family members have attended USC. Robert's mom Patty graduated in 1979 with a degree in Speech Communication. What an outstanding USC family! On a more personal note, Robert started playing volleyball at age twelve. He is a big fan of anything that is Disney. He also likes to play beach volleyball. His favorite music is Country music. FIGHT ON again, Robert!

Andy BeneshI took this picture of Andy Benesh, but didn't have time to interview him.

Chris Lischke, Cristian Rivera, Micah Christenson, Robert Feathers, Tyler Cundiff and Christopher OrenicI had to rush over and take this final picture of the five Seniors with teammate Christopher Orenic. Chris Lischke, Cristian Rivera, Micah Christenson, Robert Feathers, Tyler Cundiff and Christopher Orenic.

FIGHT ON, USC Men's Volleyball!

Thursday, May 14, 2015---USC Student Athlete Reception

Trojan Candy went downstairs as quickly as I could. The entire Galen Center Lobby was filled with athletes and their families, friends and a few coaches.

Antwaun Woods family
The first picture I took was of Antwaun Woods and his family.
Grez, Viktor, and Saretta Fajoyomi
Next, there was Viktor Fajoyomi with his parents Saretta and Grez. Viktor's parents flew from London for his graduation.
Andrea Gaston and Doris Chen
Then, I saw Coach Andrea Gaston with friend Doris Chen! Coach Gaston came through for me...just like she said she would. We three spoke for a while, just catching up. Doris has a bright future on the LPGA. FIGHT ON, Doris!
Ryan Dillard
Football Senior Cornerback Ryan Dillard said hello and posed for me.
Alexyz Vaioletama
It was almost impossible to recognize her. Alexyz Vaioletama wore so many leis, it was hard to see her face.
Haley and Tory Ishimatsu
As Trojan Candy walked toward the Galen Center south doors I saw the two sisters. Senior Haley Ishimatsu and her sister Tory Ishimatsu, who is a Volunteer Assistant Coach with the USC Swimming and Diving team, posed for me.
Giovanni di Poalo and friend
Giovanni di Poalo and friend smiled for yours truly.
Micah and Charlene Christenson
I was able to snap this picture of Micah Christenson with his mom Charlene.
Billy, Kris, and Alexis Albarado
Good friend Kris Albarado, his dad Billy and mom Alexis chatted for a while.
Kris Albarado and Mark Travis
Then Kris posed with Mark Travis.
Yvette, Bria and Josephine Russ
It was so nice to see friend Bria Russ and her mom Yvette. Trojan Candy got to meet her grandmother Josephine Russ.
J.R. Tavai and family
As I walked to the center of the lobby, I saw a large family in the corner. Then, in the center of the family was someone wearing just as many leis as Alexyz was wearing. Only this time, it was a guy! J.R. Tavai posed with his family. Can you see J.R.?

Riko Shimizu and Ray SarmientoNearby, Trojan Candy saw friend Ray Sarmiento (3/11/2011) and took his picture with his girlfriend Riko Shimizu. Ray told me that Riko competes in tennis at the University of Washington. Unfortunately, I missed Ray's parents, because they had just left the reception to get the car. Ray and Riko certainly look "cute" together!

Julie Turner and Cathie Turner ReidTrojan Candy finally made it back to the table where my sister Pat and Dudley were saving a seat for me. Sitting at the same table were Liz Turner's grandmother Julie Turner and relative Cathie Turner Reid.

The hors'doevres were delicious. After eating a few, it was back to business. Just as I stood up, there was a familiar face standing right in front of me. Stafon Johnson Trojan Candy was raking her brain to recall his name. I knew that I had seen him before about six years ago when I volunteered in Heritage Hall. Then, "Stafon" popped into my brain and out of my mouth. "Are you Stafon Johnson?" I asked. He smiled and said, "Yes." Then I reminded him that I used to volunteer at Heritage Hall. Quite naturally, I started to interview him. Stafon said that he majored in Sociology at USC. He is now interested in music and engineering. Also, more to his interest, Stafon told me that he is the current high school offensive coach at Dorsey. Another pipeline for USC football! FIGHT ON, Stafon!

Davonte Stewart and family
As Trojan Candy continued to walk around in the lobby, I saw more friends. There was Davonte Stewart and his family.
Robert and Elizabeth Feathers
Next, Robert Feathers and his sister Elizabeth posed for this picture.
Jovonte Slater
Jovonte Slater smiled for me. Unfortunately, he told me that his family wasn't able to join him.
Akawkaw Ndipagbor and Malia Cravens
Then, I saw two more friends wearing leis. So beautiful! Akawkaw "Coco" Ndipagbor and Malia Cravens look so colorful.
Cody Temple and family
The last picture Trojan Candy took was of Cody Temple and his family. Cody told me that his newborn baby son is doing well!

What an exciting, memorable afternoon!

Again, congratulations to all of the USC Athletic Seniors!