USC drum major sword
After retiring the sword wielded in every football game since 1992, the Spirit of Troy unveiled a new design. USC PHOTO | GUS RUELAS

As any true USC football fan knows, it’s not game time until the Trojan Marching Band’s drum major declares battle by stabbing his iconic sword into the playing field.

Since 1992, the same sword has kicked off pre-game festivities and led The Spirit of Troy into countless “Conquest” verses. A dedicated expert blacksmith (who also works on the drum major’s distinctive armor and plumed helmet) has honed the blade and smoothed out dents, dings and other battle scars for 25 seasons. But so much metal had been worn down over a quarter century that it was time to retire the sword after the 2017 Rose Bowl game.

For the 2017-18 football season, drum major Christopher Rick unveiled a new sword to start a legacy. Weighing about 12 pounds, the sword keeps with traditional style and has enhancements including a larger hilt for better grip, a thicker blade for longevity and a brass plate at the bottom of the blade for an added design accent.

Trojan fans can enjoy the gleam, but at a respectful distance: Traditionally, no one but the drum major—or football players who lead the band after a game—is allowed to wield the game-day sword, much less touch it.

For diehard fans itching to try it out, the next best thing is an official replica sword given to sponsors of the band’s halftime shows. Though slightly different in design, these are made by the same blacksmith—and they’re close enough to the real thing that Rick uses one as his practice sword.

Visit the Trojan Marching Band online to learn about sponsoring a halftime show.

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