May 2017 (4) Candygrams

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Saturday, May 13, 2017---Men's Volleyball Awards Brunch

Town and Gown was set up nicely for the USC's Men's Volleyball Awards brunch. My sister Patti, brother-in-law Dudley, husband Jim, and I checked in and walked to our table. Along the way, I saw the brunch items set up already. After putting down my stuff, Trojan Candy grabbed my camera and walked around looking for Christopher Orenic. He is a Senior that I have not yet interviewed.

Christopher OrenicThen, I saw him and rushed over to him, asked if I could interview him and take his picture. With a big smile, Chris said that I could. Chris received his degree in Environmental Studies/Policy Planning in 2016. This past Men's Volleyball season he was a USC graduate student majoring in Communication Management. Chris will earn his Masters in 2018. Chris started playing volleyball when he was ten years old at a camp. When he was eleven, he joined a Club Volleyball team. At thirteen, Chris met future fellow Trojans Vinnie Rios and Michael Mullahey. Friends for life! More personally, bacon and sushi are his favorite foods. When asked about hobbies, Chris said that he likes to play the guitar and to rock climb. His favorite movie is "Interstellar" and favorite television show is "South Park." Chris likes to listen to Classic Rock. His two favorite musicians are Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. FIGHT ON, Chris!

Besnik, Valbora, Viola, and Gert LishaNow it was time for the brunch to begin. Trojan Candy walked to her table. Player Gert Lisha and his family were sitting at our table. I took a picture of Gert and his family. His dad Besnik, mom Valbora, sister Viola and Gert.

On the stage, team announcer Leland Waters announced to everyone that I was the official photographer for the day. Maybe it's because I was carrying two cameras. One for pictures and the other for videos. Thanks, Leland.

Leland started the program. He introduced the team starting with the Freshmen.

Jackson Wedbush, Lucas Lossone, Michael Chang, Matt Faraimo, and Aaron Strange
The Freshmen are Jackson Wedbush, Lucas Lossone, Michael Chang, Matt Faraimo, and Aaron Strange (8/26/2016).
Matthew Douglas, Tyler Resnick, William Cook, and Ryan Moss
The Sophomores came to the stage next. The four are Matthew Douglas, Tyler Resnick, William Cook, and Ryan Moss.
Leland Waters and Gert Lisha
Gert Lisha is the only Junior on the team, so Trojan Candy had Leland pose with Gert Lisha.
Vinnie Rios, Christopher Orenic, and Andy Benesh
Last, three Seniors stepped on the stage. Vinnie Rios (5/14/2016), Christopher Orenic, and Andy Benesh (5/14/2016) stood together.
Vinnie Rios, Christopher Orenic, Andy Benesh, and Jeff Nygaard
Trojan Candy had the Seniors pose with Head Coach Jeff Nygaard.

Then Leland told all the "Mothers" to get in line first for the brunch. So we did. The brunch was one day before Mother's Day. The food was delicious.

Gert LishaWhile we were eating, Trojan Candy was able to interview my new friend Gert Lisha. Gert played volleyball at Lewis University first. His family lived in a suburb of Chicago. Then they moved to Los Angeles, so Gert transferred to USC. He had considered UCLA and Hawaii also. Trojan Candy is so glad he became a Trojan! At USC, Gert is majoring in Economics. Amazingly, Gert told me that he didn't start playing volleyball until he was a Junior in high school. He had played soccer before. Even more personally, Gert's favorite foods are Mediterranean food and Albanian food. His favorite movie is the "Shawshank Redemption." Netflix movies and "Black Mirror" are his favorite television shows. Gert likes "Hip Hop" music and likes to dance for fun. His hobbies are sports, school and hanging out with friends. FIGHT ON, Gert!

Next, Coach Nygard stepped onto the stage to announce the awards. They were as follows:

Andy Benesh and Jeff Nygaard
Andy Benesh had the highest G.P.A. for four straight years.
Christopher Orenic and Jeff Nygaard
Christopher Orenic

Lucas Yoder

Coach Nygaard announced that Lucas Yoder was currently playing in a Championship Beach Volleyball tournament to explain his absence.

Now it was time for the Senior Salute.

Christopher Orenic, Jeff Nygard, and Brian Schirripa
Christopher Orenic was on stage next. He posed with Coach Jeff Nygard and Volunteer Assistant Coach Brian Schirripa.
Christopher Orenic
Then Christopher talked about his amazing journey at USC.
Todd Hollenbeck, Vinnie Rios, and Jeff Nygaard
Vinnie Rios stepped to the podium next. He stood between Coaches Todd Hollenbeck and Jeff Nygaard.
Vinnie Rios
Vinnie was emotional and humorous about his career and his family's support. He thanked his family, coaches, and teammates.
Gert Lisha, Andy Benesh, and Jeff Nygaard
The last Senior was Andy Benesh who posed with his friend Gert Lisha and Coach Nygaard.
Andy Benesh
Andy reminisced about his years beginning with his Freshman year. He was thankful about playing at his "dream school."

FIGHT ON, Chris! FIGHT ON, Vinnie! FIGHT ON, Andy!

Team video
A video recapping the 2017 season ended the program.
Gert Lisha and Andy Benesh
Before Trojan Candy left to go to the USC Men's Tennis NCAA match, I took this picture of good friends Andy and Gert.

FIGHT ON USC Men's Volleyball!

Thursday, May 11, 2017---USC Student-Athlete Graduation Celebration Part 2

As I wrote at the end of the previous blog, after the Spirit of Troy played "Conquest," all of the Student-Athletes marched outside to the Galen Center steps for their group picture. My friend and fellow photographer Ray Wong and I rushed out the southwest doors to the stairs to take pictures. Outside, a very dear friend and the official USC photographer of the day, Pierson Clair (9/23/2010), was setting up a ladder. Trojan Candy stood right by the ladder, hoping that I would be able to get a good picture.

Then, the student-athletes arrived. I took this video to capture their arrival.
Andre DeGrasse
I stopped the video to take this picture of Andre DeGrasse
Then, I returned to videorecording the student-athletes as they filled up the stairs.

The Football Graduates stayed at the bottom of the stairs this year. In previous years, they walked to the top.

After all the graduates were in place on the stairs, Trojan Candy took a close-up video of everybody that I could see. I hope that my video shows everyone.
Group picture
Now it was time for the group picture. My friend Pierson Clair was standing at the top of the ladder. The Graduates looked up to Pierson's camera for the picture. I took some group pictures. Here is the best one I could get.
Pierson's group picture
Pierson told me that I could use his group picture for my blog. Here is his picture of the 2017 Graduates and their Coaches. Beautiful! Thank you, Pierson. Check out Pierson's website at

After the group pictures were taken, the Graduates dispersed. Trojan Candy walked among them and took pictures.

Kristen Simon, Courtney Jaco, and Sadie Edwards
Kristen Simon, Courtney Jaco (3/24/2017), and Sadie Edwards (3/25/2016) smiled for me.
Helen and Sophie Bukovec, Dick and Allie Wheeler, and Kelly Dormandy
Nearby, Helen and Sophie Bukovec (3/5/2015), Dick and Allie Wheeler (3/5/2015), and Kelly Dormandy (2/15/2015) were talking and then posed for me.
Andy Benesh
Trojan Candy caught Andy Benesh (5/14/2016) by himself, and I told him that I would look for him and his family inside.
Justin Davis, Jalen Greene, and Darreus Rogers
As I walked toward the Galen Center doors, I saw three football players. Justin Davis (12/14/2016), Jalen Greene, and Darreus Rogers (8/19/2016) were all smiles.
Anika Apostalon and Alice Pizzasegola
Swimmer and Stevens Scholar Anika Apostalon posed with Alice Pizzasegola (1/8/2017).
Jules, Lori, David, Ross, and Jacob Laser
Near the Galen Center entrance, Trojan Candy took my last outdoor picture of David Laser's (4/15/2017) family. I hadn't been able to take a picture of David's family at the Men's Tennis Senior Salute, so I had told David that I would take his family's picture at the Graduation Celebration. And Trojan Candy did! Here is Jules Laser, his mother Lori, David, his dad Ross and his brother Jacob.

Now, it was time for Trojan Candy to walk into the Galen Center and look for more Graduates and their families.

Scott and Nick Crystal, Catherine, and Diane Crystal
The first friend I saw inside was Nick Crystal (3/31/2017) with his family. Dad Scott, Nick, friend Catherine, and mom Diane.
Lucas Yoder, Leland Waters, and Andy Benesh
Volleyball friends Lucas Yoder (5/14/2016) and Andy Benesh posed with Men's Volleyball Announcer Leland Waters.
Amber Parks; Tom McLaughlin; Paris and London Parks; Jordan, Lisa, and Whitney McLaughlin; and Gerald Parks
Trojan Candy saw good friend Jordan McLaughlin (5/26/2015) with his family. Sister Amber Parks, dad Tom, nieces Paris and London Parks, Jordan, mom Lisa, sister Whitney, and brother-in-law Gerald Parks.
Frosty Tekippe and Veleta, Andy, Cheryl, and Sarah Benesh
I found another friend standing with his family. Andy Benesh had the ladies pose with him for this picture. Aunt Frosty Tekippe, grandma Veleta Benesh, Andy, mom Cheryl, and sister Sarah.
Joselyn and Justin Davis
Trojan Candy saw Justin Davis and his mom Joselyn.
Paul, Quincy, and Kelly Claes and Sara, Laura, and Rory Hughes
Nearby Justin, I was able to take this picture of two good friends, Kelly Claes (3/2/2017) and Sara Hughes (1/31/2014), flanked by their parents. Paul, Quincy, and Kelly Claes and Sara, Laura, and Rory Hughes.
Vinnie Rios, Paige Hines, and Spencer
I saw another good friend, Sara's roommate and former Beach Volleyball teammate, Paige Hines (1/31/2014). She posed with Vinnie Rios (5/14/2016) and Spencer.
Sara Hughes' rings
Ray Wong took this picture of Sara Hughes modeling her four Beach Volleyball championship rings. Thanks, Ray!
Sara Hughes
Then I took this cute picture of Sara, still showing off her rings.
Paige Hines and Sara Hughes
Trojan Candy will miss Paige and Sara.
Paige Hines, Vinnie Rios, Sara Hughes, and Terese Cannon
Vinnie Rios and Terese Cannon (3/3/2016) joined Paige and Sara in this picture.
Darreus and Carter James Rogers
I saw friend Darreus Rogers holding his son Carter James. Darreus wore a Seattle Seahawks sash around his neck. Congratulations, Darreus, on being drafted.

Darreus Rogers and familyTrojan Candy was able to gather Darreus Rogers' entire family around him and Carter James in this picture.

Tom, Agnes and Felicia Horvath, Dora, Andrew, and Guszt HorvathMy last picture of this fabulous day was of a friend I met five years ago. I thought that I recognized her but thought that she had graduated last year. Finally, Trojan Candy walked over to her and her family. When I got closer, I realized, it was Felicia Horvath (4/1/2016)! Felicia told me that she did graduate in 2016, but walked this year. She introduced me to her family. I took this picture of Tom, her mom Agnes, Felicia, her Aunt Dora, Andrew and her dad Guszt. So nice to see you again and meet your family, Felicia!

What a memorable USC day!

Congratulations to all of the 2017 USC Student Athletes!