The alarm goes off at 6am on Friday, October 30th. By 7am, my Ford Fusion hybrid is packed with three friends and their bags, and we are cruising on the 110-North, escaping traffic as we travel toward the 5. We have just begun the annual pilgrimage to San Francisco for the Weekender.
What is the Weekender? Every year, USC plays either UC Berkeley or Stanford on the road. And every year, hundreds of USC students and alumni travel the 6-hour journey to either Berkeley or Palo Alto to watch the football game and experience the joys of San Francisco.
My first Weekender experience was in the fall of 2014. Having left Los Angeles for Palo Alto a mere 18 hours before the game (the game started at noon on Saturday, you can do the math), my caravan and I made it just in time to watch our Trojans upset the Cardinal 13-10. This past year fall, I had the pleasure of watching USC pummel Jared Goff and the Berkeley Bears 27-21.
But the Weekender is much more than a football game. The Weekender demonstrates the loyalty of the Trojan family. On the trek up the 5, every other car seems to be flying a USC flag or sporting a USC bumper sticker. The day before the game, my friends and I enjoyed listening to the band, which proudly blared our favorite tunes in the middle of San Francisco’s square. Taking the BART (Bay Area Regional Transport) to Cal’s Memorial Stadium the next day was just like taking LA’s Expo Metro Line prior to a home game; the subway cart was packed with fans of all ages sporting cardinal and gold. Prior to the game, tailgates are flooded with USC alumni and students. Perhaps most importantly, the cheers of USC fans overwhelmed the home crowd during the games. I loved loudly singing the fight song with thousands of fellow fans in enemy territory!
Personally, the Weekender allowed me explore San Francisco while catching up with old friends who had graduated in years past. Friday afternoon, I caught up with my friend Josh and received a tour of Originate, the startup he works at. Friday evening, I made it to the Golden Gate bridge with Aaron, another recent alumnus now living in the Bay. Following the game Saturday, I made sure to visit all the major tourist attractions; I basically ate my way through San Francisco! I had a sushi burrito in Union Square before riding the iconic cable car to Ghirardelli Square. And of course I made time to eat a Ghirardelli ice cream prior to heading to Fisherman’s Wharf (to eat a clam chowder bread bowl, as you might expect). Later that evening, I enjoyed taking on San Francisco’s nightlife with Aaron and Josh. In 48 hours, I conquered San Francisco!
As I transition from collegiate senior to alumni, I fully intend to continue the Weekender tradition and the 6am Friday wake-ups. I cannot wait to see the Trojans take on Stanford this fall!Meet Alex