By Karen Fernau
GCU News Bureau
Talk about Lopes Up.
Grand Canyon University’s Cheer and Dance teams once again scored big in the Universal Cheer Association (UCA)-Universal Dance Association (UDA) College Spirit Camp, which took place last weekend in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Count Thunder in on their victories. For the fifth straight year, GCU’s huggable mascot was named Camp Champ.
Emily Stephens, who oversees Cheer, Dance, the Havocs and Thunder as Director of Spirit Programs, credits their wins to more than just well-choreographed routines and gifted athletes.
“We are doing what we are doing for our love of each other, GCU and for our love of the Lord. Our focus on that love goes above and beyond and truly allows our light to shine through,” she said.
Head Dance Coach Jacque Genung-Koch agrees: “We are focused on being the light of Jesus. We are a spiritual team, and we do what we do for His glory. This is the commitment behind our success.”
In a repeat of last year’s record-setting performance, the teams won every possible honor at the camp, which included teams from the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, California State University-Fullerton, University of Wyoming, University of Hawaii and San Diego State.
GCU’s 27-member Dance team took home blue ribbons for Leadership Award, outstanding Game Day and for all individual routines.
GCU’s largest ever Cheer team nabbed first places in Overall Game Day for Small CoEd and in Fight Song along with second place in Overall Game Day and Fight Song for Large CoEd. The team also won the Traditions Award, Leadership Award and Most Collegiate Award.
The Cheer team increased from 35 to 47 this year to meet the increasing demand at GCU sporting, campus and community events.
“We are just doing more and more, so we needed to expand. And it’s not about quantity over quality. We were able to do this without compromising character or talent,” Associate Head Coach Keegan Hubbard said.
While all the camp awards are cherished, one stands out as extra special. For both the dancers and cheerleaders, repeat wins of the Leadership Award means the most.
“We were selected by our peers, and for us that is the highest honor. We have a commitment to showing love for everyone, and it showed,” Stephens said.
All camp participants are asked what team, other than their own, they would choose to be on. The team with the most votes wins the Leadership Award.
For Genung-Koch, the Leadership Award validates that “who we are comes first and what we do comes second.”
Both teams spent nearly two weeks on campus before the Santa Barbara trip fine-tuning their routines and building team spirit. But they credit their camp wins to more than hard work and friendships.
“I know it sounds cliché, but we are who we are because of the support we get from the executive level on down,” Stephens said. “The teams are valued for what they are doing, and that more than anything pushes them harder.”
● Cheer team members:
Jessa Deckwa, Lindsey Stone, Hailey Williams, Courtney Caithamer, Cailey Christensen, Abbie Henderson, Casey Traut, Emily Young, Dylan Brower, Thalia Reyes, Megan Veach, Chris Derullieux, Maxine Hanson, Matthew Mayo, Brian Shaw, Vianna Demetrulias, Tim Warner, Madeline Alexander, Kaitlin Aragon, Marley Crawford, Meliah Dirksen, Olivia Pittmann, Jordan Wagner, Heather Hamilton, Megan Gadbaw, Emily Fox, Grayson Higgins, Lindsey Relerford, Camdon Steele, Brandon Dawa, Abigail Banks, Megan Gill, Taylor Kubly, Carli Nielson, Janessa Petty, Rylee Rackers, Kendall Roberts, Alycia Bukartek, Jacob Butz, Austin Diering, James Geiselhofer, Elizabeth Hansen, Rebecca Heller, Madison Johnson, Kevin Luque, Alexia Reyes and Brittani Rocha.
● Dance team members:
Abbey DeLaet, Adrianna Polyak, Allison Bretzman, Ashley Vest, Brianna Prestia, Brittany Ferguson, Caity Wood, Carlie Riedel, Gabi Ford, Hailey Johnson, Hannah Garcia, Heather Hagen, Kyla Hicha, Lacey Rigali, Laikyn Ring, Madi Given, Madison Reimers, Marisa Ramirez, Maya Olson, McKenna Ross, Megan Harmon, Mikayla Carender, Paige Moss, Savannah Neat, Taylor McQuillan, Torie Yoshihara, Tyra Thompson.
Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.