Havoc-forming: The volume keeps going up, up, up
Editor’s note: This story is reprinted from the August 2017 issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.
By Rick Vacek
“The craziest fans in college basketball root for a school you’ve never heard of,” the USA Today headline read last February.
But thanks to the Havocs and all the amazed accounts of other reporters visiting Grand Canyon University Arena for the first time, GCU is most definitely on the NCAA map. It’s just that the Havocs are making its purple dot grow even larger.
During the University’s four-year transition to Division I, the Havocs likewise have transitioned – from about four or five rows of seats to nearly half the Arena for men’s basketball games. Karsten Kem, the Havocs’ president for 2017-18 (the group has, in effect, a full supervisory board), said he knows of students who decided to attend GCU just because they wanted to be part of the Havocs.
This year’s goal is to grow another 15 percent, to as many as 3,000 screaming, jumping, arm-waving, head-bobbing Havocs, and to continue to bring their wild-and-crazy antics to the games of other teams besides men’s basketball.
“We’re trying to create the most enjoyable fan experience, whether it’s at the tailgate before the game, in line or in the Arena,” Kem said.
The fans have noticed. They most certainly have noticed. The Purple Pre-Game Party, which begins 10 minutes before the tipoff and features choreographed, heart-pounding routines unique to the Havocs, has become a don’t-miss-this moment for curious visitors and veteran fans alike. The response is always the same: You’ve never seen anything like this. Ever.
But now the stakes are even higher. Now the Lopes are eligible for the NCAA Tournament, and the Havocs’ rallying cry is “It Starts Now.” The intensity will be ratcheted up even more, as impossible as that seems.
They don’t even need a game to get the party started. The Havocs are planning a campout before Midnight Madness, scheduled for Oct. 6, and two days later the Havocs’ all-access passes, with priority seating, will go on sale for $25 apiece.
They’ll be on hand at least three times away from campus – at New Mexico State, the game vs. St. John’s at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix and for the Western Athletic Conference tournament at Las Vegas – and most certainly will be front and center if GCU qualifies for the NCAA Tournament in its first year of eligibility.
But this isn’t just for select students. “Every student’s a Havoc” is the group’s credo, and Kem is quick to point out that a majority of the Havocs are women, which is unusual for a student cheer section.
Even students who choose not to take part feel the effect of this full-throated movement. You can’t be on campus and not hear about the Havocs.
“It’s a point of pride for students,” said Shelby Langston, the Havocs’ vice president of marketing. “They know that the games wouldn’t be this big without them there.”
As new students undoubtedly will hear many times over during Welcome Week and beyond, “It Starts Now.” The Havocs’ voices will be heard, loud and clear.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.