Olympic gold medalists Rebecca Soni, DeeDee Trotter and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke talked about their journeys from student-athletes to coaches at Tuesday night’s “USC in the Olympics” panel in Bovard Auditorium.Trojan Olympians · (From left to right): Rebecca Soni, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and DeeDee Trotter spoke about their emotions and experiences while competing in the Olympics at Bovard Auditorium on Tuesday evening. – Benjamin Dunn | Daily TrojanSoni, Trotter and Cooper-Dyke medaled in swimming, track and field and basketball, respectively.Organized by the Program Board’s Trojan Pride and Speakers Committee, the panel was moderated by Professor Daniel Durbin, who teaches sports media among a variety of other things at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.Trojan Pride’s director Kyleen Marcella said that an Olympic panel was something they had been talking about for a while due to the history USC has in the Olympics. The two committees wanted to host the panel before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.“We wanted to focus not just on the Olympic games, but what it means to be a student-athlete at USC competing at such a top level and what it’s like to be a role model and coach for these student-athletes,” Marcella said. “DeeDee, Rebecca and Coach Cooper are not only Olympians, but role models for the students they continue to coach and teach at the school. We think it’s important to highlight USC’s history in the Olympics and the people that continue to make our school successful.”Volunteer assistant coach for track and field DeeDee Trotter arrived at USC only three-and-a-half months ago.“I got into track and field by accident,” Trotter said. “I didn’t have track dreams growing up, but I was just fast.”Speaking about her coaching experience at USC, she stated that it was a pleasure to be training such a talented set of people.“It’s so great because they look up to you, and respect you, and listen to what you have to say and the advice you have for them,” Trotter said.Cooper-Dyke, head coach of the women’s basketball team, started playing basketball when she was 15.“I came to USC at the last minute because we won the high school championship, and they offered me a spot,” Cooper-Dyke said. “I believe in working harder than everyone else, rather than just being better than them. When I made the Olympic team I was shocked, but more so that I was going to the Olympics rather than just making the team.”Soni, the first woman to finish the 200-meter breaststroke in less than 2 minutes and 20 seconds, said that her experience in the Olympics was an award in itself.“[It is all about your] hard work paying off, and just being able to represent your country.”She also said that she’s always excited to come to USC because she enjoys seeing all the changes on campus.“I’m really excited for the new changes, including Heritage Hall and the new aquatic center,” Soni said.The three women also agreed that the Olympics were a surreal experience and that standing on the podium to receive their medal was the best part aside from the opening ceremonies.“You can’t put into words what you actually experience when you walk into the stadium,” Cooper-Dyke said.Students in attendance were incredibly excited to be hearing the athletes talk about their journeys.Saleeta Rajwani, a sophomore majoring in cognitive science, was especially interested in the panel’s ties to the Trojan Family.“I’m just so excited to hear them talk especially since they went to USC, you know?” she said. “It’s great that they came back to USC to talk about their experiences.”Kelly Lynch, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, said she was excited that the Olympians would take time out of their schedules to talk to students.“For all the athletes, and everyone else too, it’s so inspiring that people at such a high level of sports are here with us to talk to us, and are from USC,” she said.