‘Lopes on the Road’ makes GCU’s sense of community mobile
(Editor’s note: This story is from the May 2016 issue of GCU Today Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.)
By Lauren Michelsen
GCU Today Magazine
Ask any Lope, past or present, what they love about Grand Canyon University, and the word “community” is bound to be heard many times over. With GCU recently surpassing 100,000 graduates and spreading its reach nationwide, the need to engage alumni, online students and off-campus staff is greater than ever, and “Lopes on the Road” does just that.
The Alumni Relations and Athletics departments team up to stage Lopes on the Road, a family-oriented pregame reception that brings GCU fans — including parents of ground students — together before they go wild for the team at the game. They gather for a meal, collect free swag and get in the spirit.
This was the third basketball season of Lopes on the Road events, and they were so successful the departments have expanded the program to other sports. There have been Lopes on the Road events at two baseball games this season, and another one is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 in San Jose, Calif.
“Other schools look at us like, ‘Where did all these GCU people come from?’” Vice President of Athletics Mike Vaught said.
It’s not unusual for purple-clad GCU fans to take up a whole section in the opposing team’s arena. “As an athlete, it’s good to not feel like it’s ‘me against the world,’” Vaught said. “It’s good to have people on your side.”
While Lopes on the Road provides a support system for athletes, it also creates a sense of camaraderie between fellow alumni and non-traditional students by “bringing a piece of campus to them,” said Kimberlee Marlow, director of alumni relations. “The interest level and attendance has exceeded our expectations.”
“I’ve had the ability to meet fellow students, alumni and even GCU staff members that I would not have been able to previously meet thanks to the ‘Road’ programs,” said Nick Roberts, a former online student and the Seattle alumni chapter president. “Getting to watch the team go out there and represent our school makes such an impact when you’re so far away. It really loops you into the campus.”
The big Lopes on the Road turnouts have shown that the togetherness at GCU events is not exclusive to the west Phoenix campus. “The GCU community is amazing and improving every day,” said Erik Adams, a former online student.
No matter whether it’s on campus or far, far away.