Cheer, dance teams and Thunder score big victories
By Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau
The 2016-17 academic year hasn’t even begun yet, and Grand Canyon University teams already are bringing home the hardware.
The cheer and dance teams had their best finishes ever at the Universal Cheer Association (UCA) and Universal Dance Association (UDA) camp competitions earlier this month at Santa Barbara, Calif., sweeping the Leadership Awards and defeating several Division I universities, including New Mexico, Cal and San Diego State. GCU’s mascot, Thunder, also was a big winner.
The cheer team won the Most Collegiate Award, Leadership Award, Game Day Award, first place in Fight Song, second place in Game Day and was voted Superior in all the categories in which it competed.
In addition to the Leadership Award, the dance team won first place for its Home Routine and for Most Collegiate and earned Superior Awards for Fight Song and routine evaluations.
Thunder was the Camp Champion for the fourth straight year and also won the Leadership Award.
“The expectations have grown and we’ve grown with them,” senior cheer captain Olivia Moeck said. “It’s the best we’ve done, and how we’ve grown as a program and school is the ultimate reward.”
Summer vacation might have been cut short, but it was worth it.
After a minicamp for a couple days in early June, in which the dance and cheer teams received their specific routines, the squads arrived on campus for good at the beginning of August.
Their “welcome week” consisted of eight consecutive days of eight-hour practices followed by team building and community-service exercises leading up to the camps.
In between, dance team members updated coaches with individual videos.
Opinions were mixed as to which award meant the most, but repeating in Best Fight Song was mentioned more than once.
The Leadership Award, however, resonated with both coaches and dancers, not only because the winning school is voted on by all other participating schools, but also because the award encapsulated many attributes that attracted these cheer and dance students to GCU in the first place: servant leadership.
“It was the biggest compliment we could get,” senior dancer Lauryn Manning said. “It means we’re doing all the right things, presenting ourselves well, down to the details of saying ‘thank you’ after critiques.”
Internal expectations for both squads were high to begin the summer, especially with heavy sophomore and junior classes on both squads’ rosters.
But thanks in part to the senior captains and returning members, the rapid growth required from newcomers during those long summer days was present and (happily) accounted for.
“Our new people came in and grew so quickly, and every year for these past four years has been a little better,” senior cheer member Jami Cox said. “We’re growing up fast. Everyone has competed at a high level and with a positive attitude. It’s exactly what you want.”
In preparation for what’s expected to be a successful 2016-17 season for all GCU athletics, this time the spirit squads gave the rest of Lope Nation reason to cheer.
“We’ll carry this through on game days, whether it’s basketball, soccer, wherever we are,” Manning said. “We’re representing GCU, the school and ourselves. We’re going to bring the energy every day.”
Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or [email protected]