With the Carolina Clemson football game coming up, South Carolina students whose families and friends are Clemson fans shared their experiences in choosing USC and how they show pride for their school.
Carolina-Clemson rivalry doesn't divide split families
While some families affected by the Clemson Carolina rivalry are inspired by competition, others find inspiration in opposition. Jamie Wilder, a third-year early childhood education student, has a very close relationship with her older sister Lindsey who graduated from Clemson in 2012.
"She is seven years older than me and has two boys who are three and four years old and a ten month old daughter," Wilder said. " I am very close to my sister and her children, who have inspired me to become a teacher."
Finding motivation in her sister's footsteps, Wilder is currently involved in Alpha Gamma Delta and is an entertainment committee member for Relay for Life. Inspired by her sister's participation at Clemson, she continues to increase her involvement here at USC. While the state rivalry by no means dominates their relationship, they often joke about their enrollment at opposing schools.
"We both think that we went to the better school in South Carolina, and were both involved in things at our schools," Wilder said. "We tease each other sometimes, about which school is better."
While Wilder and her sister are only minimally involved in school spirit activities during rivalry week, she hopes to get more involved in the future.
"I have never attended a Clemson-Carolina game with my sister, but it would be a fun experience," Wilder said.
Wilder believes she has won in terms of her family rivalry, as her other sister also attended USC.
"I think I am at the better school in South Carolina, but it is fun to have a sibling who went to your opposing school," Wilder said. "My other sister attended USC and graduated in 2015, so the sister to school ratio is two to one."
Alex Thompson is another student with strong ties to Clemson. A second-year electrical engineering student at USC, both of Thompson's parents graduated from Clemson University and he himself grew up a Clemson fan.
"USC and Clemson are actually the only ones I did apply to,” Thompson said. “I chose USC, in part because it was close to home, but also because of the Honors College. And because I knew that the engineering program was really good, and when you’re looking for a school, you’re looking for a good program.”
Despite the rivalry between Gamecock and Tiger fans, Thompson’s decision to come to USC did not create a rift in his family.
“I think they would have been supportive of most any school, so long as they trusted it,” Thompson said. “My extended family, on my mom’s side, were very pleased as both of my uncles, her brothers, graduated from USC.”
Matt Taylerson, a first-year criminal justice student, decided to come to USC instead of following in his family’s footsteps and attending Clemson.
Taylerson’s parents went to Clemson for their undergraduate degrees and his brother is a current student at Clemson. However, his mother went to graduate school at USC. Taylerson expresses that his decision to attend USC in light of the rivalry between the two schools has not been a problem so far for his family.
“I wouldn’t say that it has affected anything in particular too much," Taylerson said. "I mean it’s different ‘cause I think that they just started expecting me to go to Clemson, so it was different when I started to go here.”
This is Taylerson's first semester at USC and he has yet to experience a football game where the two schools are playing against each other.
“The only really main thing that it has affected, I guess, is football and I will see how that goes when we play them in a couple weeks, but nothing that's being affected too much.”
The reasoning behind Taylerson's decision to attend USC included his desire to go somewhere that his whole family did not go so that he could have a unique experience. His parents were supportive of his decision to go somewhere that he wanted to go.
“Just the moment I told them I was going to USC," Taylerson said. "I was super nervous about it, like would they be mad or anything, but ... the first thing my parents said was that they were happy for me and they were super excited.”
Twin rivalry deepens love for USC
Double trouble takes on a whole new meaning for USC students Brodie McGregor and Keith Matthews, both of whom have twin siblings that attend Clemson.
For most of her life, McGregor, a fourth-year hospitality student, was not incredibly influenced by the rivalry, despite the two sides of her family being divided by the schools. However, this all changed once she decided to attend USC.
“I would say I was a fan of both teams, but when it would come down to the Clemson vs. Carolina game, I always pulled for Carolina. Now that I attend USC, I've become a bigger fan of the school and find myself liking Clemson less and less because of the rivalry," McGregor said in an email.
McGregor and her sister Aubrey, a fourth-year Clemson student, enjoy going to rival schools and frequently compete over football games and who goes to the best school.
“I think that it is so cool having a twin at my rival school,” McGregor said in an email. “It's so neat telling my friends that I have a twin sister but even cooler saying that she goes to Clemson. She has done so much with the school, and I love sharing that with others.”
McGregor and her twin sister grew up in a divided house with their father graduating from Clemson and an uncle on their mother’s side graduating from USC.
“I have always grown up to associate my moms side of the family as USC fans and my dads side of the family as Clemson fans," McGregor said in an email. "The house division has grown since my twin sister and I have decided to attend the two schools.”
McGregor spent her first two years of college at USC-Beaufort to play softball. This is her second year at the Columbia campus.
“When I made the transfer to USC, my moms side of the family was thrilled for another family member to be attending the university,” McGregor said in an email. “My dads side of the family was so supportive of the transfer and proud that I was making the decision to better myself and my education to focus on my future. I even got them to buy USC t-shirts that they wear just for me.”
Matthews, a second-year mechanical engineering student, grew up in a Clemson household but chose to attend USC for the recently announced aerospace engineering program. Chrissy, his twin sister currently attends Clemson, where she also studies mechanical engineering.
"It's a lot of fun actually, getting more involved in that because I have more to pull for," Matthews said. "Just trying to prove that I made the better decision than she did."
Matthews said that his decision has strengthened his interest in the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry since his departure from his Clemson household in Greenville, South Carolina. He said his sister and he often throw jabs and joke about the rivalry, which helps them bond.
"Actually, I think I get a little more into it now," Matthews said. "Me and my sister ... we like to throw shade towards each other just about different schools or something ... if a study comes out or whatever, you know, kind of trash talk each other a little bit."
Matthews’ parents do not attend athletic events because of the rivalry within their family.
"Ultimately, they just really don't like going to those events just because they feel guilty pulling for Clemson when I'm there," Matthews said.
Even though both pairs of twins are separated by the rivalry, they all find ways to overcome differences.
“Me and my sister at least find that a way to bond through that,” Matthews said.
Couple finds coexistence within Carolina-Clemson rivalry
Everyone at USC knows about the Carolina-Clemson rivalry, but few feel it as keenly as Lydia Duncan and Steven Wallace. The two began dating just before making their college decisions, and now Duncan and Wallace are current USC and Clemson students respectively.
Duncan, a first-year marine science student at USC, and Wallace, a first-year bioengineering student at Clemson, began dating their senior year of high school. Having been friends for years before that, they already knew they would likely be going to different colleges.
However, once the two realized those different colleges would be South Carolina and Clemson, a playful rivalry ensued.
“I honestly do not care about the Carolina-Clemson rivalry, I know that’s horrible,” Duncan said. “Now I’m pretty invested, because he’s on the other side of it.”
Wallace had similar ambivalent feelings about the rivalry before attending Clemson, but now that he's there and his girlfriend is at USC, he pays more attention.
“I knew that I wouldn’t really have much of a choice when I went to Clemson to be very invested in it, and so I kind of just embraced that,” Wallace said.
The two make playful jabs at one another’s colleges at opportune times, trying to make the case for their own college's superiority.
“We tease each other a lot. It’s basically just jokingly ... when the ratings for the dining halls came out, and USC was the top one, I was like, 'oh wow, look who gets the better food,' and he’s like, 'our food’s okay,' and I’m like, 'but mine’s better,'" Duncan said.
It’s not all just humorous bickering though. When Wallace is asked his favorite thing about USC, he responds with a joyful laugh, “My favorite thing about USC is obviously Lydia.”