This Saturday’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot (9 a.m–noon ET, ESPN) will include the feature “Trojan Forever”with reporter Gene Wojciechowski, produced by Meghan Robinson.
Until a chance meeting in 2016, USC head coach Clay Helton had never heard of 71-year-old Jan Moser Dyer. Now, he’ll never forget her … or the two words that define her: Fight On. Front Row spoke to Wojciechowski about the piece.
What is the theme of the feature?
I guess the theme would have something to do with unconditional love: Jan Moser Dyer’s unconditional lifelong love of her alma mater, USC, and its football team. And a random act of kindness by USC coach Clay Helton and his wife Angela toward Jan that blossomed into a friendship, and then strengthened into a bond as Jan continued her fight against breast cancer.
How did the idea for this feature come about and what was your approach to telling it?
We first learned of the friendship between Jan and Clay because of a Dec. 2017 story written by the talented Bruce Feldman [in Sports Illustrated]. By the time we spent several days with Jan in August 2018, her condition had changed dramatically, but her friendship with Clay and Angela had deepened. The approach to the story was simple: Try to convey the depth of that friendship and bond to the viewer — and then get out of the way. The dynamic between the two of them was obvious and heartfelt.
What will fans learn from the feature and what “Trojan Forever” and “Fight On” means?
“Fight On” is a phrase that has great meaning to any USC alum and fan, but for Jan and Clay (and Angela, who is a breast cancer survivor) the words have greater meaning. What I hope fans will see in the piece is the goodness and sincerity of a head coach, and the spirit and resiliency of a woman who found comfort in Helton’s kindness and his team.