GCU aims to turn camps into hoop dreams
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University’s successful first season in NCAA Division I basketball benefits the men’s and women’s programs in a multitude of ways, and one of them should be readily apparent next month.
June will be filled with youth basketball camps at the Rec Center and Antelope Gym, which figure to be crowded as well. Both of the University’s basketball programs are aggressively promoting the camps as a way to further extend GCU’s reach.
“We want to make a splash in the local community,” said Luke DallaRiva, new director of basketball operations for the men’s program. “We first want to be great in Phoenix. Then we want to be great in Arizona. And then we want to be great in the American Southwest.”
Mikaela Ward, the women’s director of basketball operations, called the camps “a big outreach program for us,” and added, “We’re here, we’re a big school and we can compete, and we want to show why student-athletes should be attracted to us.”
The Dan Majerle Boys’ Basketball Camp has four options: individual camps for ages 6-14, June 2-5 and 16-19, and camps for high school teams, June 5-7 and 26-28. The fee for the individual camps is $200 until May 26 and $210 thereafter (GCU employees get a special rate of $175 until May 26, then $185 after May 26 for the first camp and after June 2 for the second camp). The camp fee for teams is $450.
The GCU Women’s Basketball Team Camp for high school and club teams is June 12-14, and the Elite Camp for individual girls entering grades 9-12 is June 23-24. Fees are $400 per team for the first camp and $100 per player for the second (employee rate for the Elite Camp is $80), and supervised campus housing for overnight stays is available for an additional cost.
It will be a big month for Majerle, in particular because, unlike last year, he has more time to prepare for the camps. He will be joined by current and former Phoenix Suns players as well as his coaching staff and GCU players.
“I think the thing we’ll do here better than anywhere else is create an exciting, energized environment,” DallaRiva said. “We’ll teach basketball skills, of course, but we’ll do it NBA style and we’ll encourage personal development. We all know what Dan Majerle stands for – he changes your game with his attitude and effort.”
DallaRiva is no stranger to elite basketball camps. He came to GCU from Kent State University, where he was a graduate assistant, but previously worked at the famed IMG Basketball Academy in Bradenton, Fla., which brings in kids from all over the world for hefty fees. His experience has taught him the importance of mixing in a few laughs to make it memorable.
“We want it to be the most highly competitive, highly energetic and highly driven camp around,” he said. “But we also want it to be the most fun youth camp in the state. It will be a dynamic environment.”
There will be space for 32 teams and 100-150 individuals in the boys’ camp. Ward said her goal for the girls’ camp, which will be run by head coach Trent May, his staff and players, was to have 25 teams signed by the end of April, and she had 27. Tuesday, the count was 30, six more than last year.
Ward said she plans to have all the campers walk in through the promenade in the center of campus, decorated with new GCU signage.
“We want to make a statement that we’re here and we did well in our first year in Division I,” she said, referring to GCU’s 21-9 record.
And you can bet that every attendee will leave campus with plenty of T-shirts, socks, wrist bands and other swag items. This splash definitely will have a purple hue.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602.639.8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.