USC Great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke Features In Final USC Olympian Speaker Series
"Cardinal & Gold Conversations with USC Olympians," a four-session virtual speaker series featuring some of the greatest names in USC's storied Olympic heritage, concludes Wednesday, Dec. 9 with Trojan Olympians Cynthia Cooper-Dyke (Basketball - 1988 gold, 1992 bronze), soccer's Amy Rodriguez (golds in 2008 and 2012), tennis' Steve Johnson (2016 bronze) and swimming's Janet Evans (three gold and one silver in 1988, 1992 gold).
The online series, free to all Trojan fans, is sponsored by the Trojan Athletic Fund and the Heritage Association.
The one-hour session, beginning at 4 p.m. PT, will open with a Q&A moderated by Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and will then proceed to questions from the public.
USC has produced more Olympians, medalists and gold medalists than any other U.S. university. A Trojan has won a gold medal at every Summer Olympics since 1912.
One of the world's greatest and most decorated women's basketball players, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke helped lead USC to the 1983 and 1984 NCAA championships as a player before winning two Olympic medals and four WNBA titles. Cooper first played professionally in Spain and Italy while also representing the United States in international competition — collecting a gold medal at the 1987 Pan American Games, a gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, golds at the 1986 and 1990 FIBA World Championships and a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Cooper returned to the United States in 1997 at the age of 34 to play with the Houston Comets of the newly formed WNBA, where she was an immediate and lasting impact. She'd win four consecutive WNBA championships (1997-2000) with the Houston Comets, named WNBA Finals MVP each time. She became the first WNBA player to hit the 500-, 1,000-, 2,000- and 2,500-point career scoring plateaus, and was a three-time WNBA All-Star. Cooper was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 (the first WNBA player enshrined).
In 2014, she returned to USC to take the helm of the women's basketball program, promptly guiding the Women of Troy to their first-ever Pac-12 Tournament Championship that season. Now at Texas Southern she holds a 241-173 career record as she continues her 13th season as a head coach.
After closing out his USC career on a 72-match singles win streak, Steve Johnson propelled himself into a strong professional career. In 2016, he won his first career pro singles and doubles titles and also represented the United States at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Johnson would emerge as just the second Trojan tennis player to medal at the Olympics with his bronze medal won in doubles.
Currently ranked No. 72 in the world in singles, Johnson has made 34 Grand Slam appearances since going pro in 2012. As a Trojan, Johnson pieced together what is arguably the most successful collegiate career in history. A two-time NCAA Singles Champion, Johnson anchored USC to four consecutive NCAA Team Championships. A seven-time All-American, Johnson collected 149 career singles wins and 134 doubles victories in four years as a Trojan.
Amy Rodriguez played at USC from 2005-2008, leading the program to its first National Championship in 2007. Rodriguez followed up the national title with the first of her two Olympic Gold Medals in 2008, helping the U.S. Women's National Team take the title at the games in Beijing where she assisted on the game-winning goal in the gold medal match. Her second gold came at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when she was the USWNT's second leading scorer for the calendar year with nine goals. Rodriguez recorded her first cap for the U.S. senior national team in 2005, and in total made 132 appearances and scored 30 international goals, playing in two Olympics and two FIFA World Cups.
While at USC, Rodriguez earned All-American honors twice and All-Pac-10 recognition three times, including being named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2005. Her name still litters the USC record book, with the forward sitting fourth in career points with 79, fifth in career goals with 31, eighth in career assists with 17, second in game-winning goals with 12 and first in total shots with 252.
Rodriguez went on to be selected first overall in the 2008 Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) draft following her time at USC and has maintained a long and successful professional career that continues to this day with the Utah Royals in the NWSL.
USC alumna Janet Evans (B.A. Communication '95), is a five-time Olympic medalist in distance swimming and world record holder who won multiple medals in two consecutive Olympics.
Evans, who did not swim for Troy, but attended USC as a student, won the Olympic gold medal in the 800 freestyle at both the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, and the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. She won the 400-freestyle race in Seoul and earned the silver medal in the same race in Barcelona. She added the 400-meter individual medley gold medal in Seoul.
The Olympic Hall of Fame swimmer, who qualified for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, was chosen to carry the torch into the stadium and pass the Olympic flame to Muhammad Ali. Now, Evans serves as the chief athlete officer for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.
About Trojan Athletic Fund:
Founded in 1923, the Trojan Athletic Fund (TAF) provides direct funding for USC Athletics' 21 varsity sports. TAF members form a global group of more than 8,000 alumni, parents, former student-athletes and friends who collectively contribute to the annual educational and competitive success of more than 650 Trojan student-athletes. To learn more about the Trojan Athletic Fund and ways to support USC student-athletes, visit USCTrojans.com.
The Heritage Association is USC's student-athlete alumni network and is comprised of over 750 active members. The mission of the Heritage Association is to create a united community among USC's student-athlete alumni through philanthropy.