Havocs set to camp, get amped for Louisville game
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau
Some newly choreographed routines are in place. More are being planned. The Havocs, Grand Canyon University’s nationally recognized student cheer section, have started early in their preparations for the biggest home basketball game in GCU history.
So early, in fact, that they’re going to be there camping out at least 24 hours in advance to be first in line.
When No. 14-ranked Louisville arrives at GCU Arena for the 7 p.m. game Saturday, it will be greeted by a group of hardy students who will have turned the Quad into Camp Havoc, complete with fun and games on Friday night and coffee and donuts from Grand Canyon Beverage Company on Saturday morning.
Any students with a tent are invited to take part in the campout, which will have rules in place to make sure the event complies with student-conduct policies.
“The Havocs are all about community, and that’s what the tenting idea is all about,” said Karsten Kem, the group’s vice president.
Then comes the game, which is sold out and will feature the Havocs at their full-throated best. They tried out some new routines for the SIU Edwardsville game Monday night and are working on more innovations.
“We want to make sure we’re ready for Louisville,” Kem said.
It has become fashionable to compare the Havocs to the Cameron Crazies, the cheer section at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. When GCU went there Nov. 12, Kem and three other Havocs members, including the group’s president, Steve Hunsaker, made the trip to see first-hand how the Crazies compare.
They noticed several things. For one, the 1,000 or so Crazies in one corner of Duke’s 9,314-seat arena didn’t compare to the 2,500-plus Havocs who fill the entire east side of GCU Arena and spill over into the north and south ends.
“They’re good. We’re better,” Kem said. “I wouldn’t trade the Havocs for anything. When it comes to pure volume and energy in the arena, the Havocs are second to none.”
The Havocs weren’t the only ones who noticed the difference — GCU coach Dan Majerle said the exact same thing. And SIU Edwardsville coach Jon Harris sure was impressed Monday.
“This is one of the best environments I’ve been in at any level,” he told The Alton (Ill.) Telegraph.
But the Crazies are creative, too, and the Havocs picked up some choreography ideas from them.
For example, everyone on the south side of the Arena would stand up Monday just as an SIUE player was shooting a free throw, and the Havocs also introduced a new swaying-to-the-music routine.
But the most noticeable change Monday was an old Havocs standby: Every time a GCU player shoots a free throw, a cheerleader shouts, “One, two, three,” and everyone in the Arena shouts back, “Lopes up!” as they raise their arms in unison with the traditional GCU hand pose.
It was loud before. Now it’s much louder. And that’s the result of the Havocs leaders giving the students, many of whom are freshmen, extensive instruction before the game.
“It’s so cool having them catch on,” Kem said. “It’s a smart freshman class.”
The injury-depleted Lopes will appreciate the support Saturday against a team that defeated them 111-63 last year at Louisville. But one thing’s for sure: The Havocs will make their presence known and will support their Lopes team no matter what happens.
“Our attitude is, ‘Let’s show how great we are. Let’s stay loud buzzer to buzzer,’” Kem said.
That’s not just a lot of noise. It’s passion, too, and the Havocs can’t wait to rise in unison … both Saturday morning from their tents and again on Saturday night.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.