By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
They sang it to each other during two summer dance camps.
“Fill it up!”
“Pour it out!”
They whispered it to each other at camp when they had to practice in the dark outside in an area considered a quiet zone.
“Fill it up!”
“Pour it out!”
“Fill it up!”
“Pour it out!”
But no matter how the members of the Dance team communicate their motto for the 2019-20 academic year, one message comes through loud and clear: This sisterhood is filled with so much togetherness, it’s an outpouring of God’s love through them.
“As a team, we talked a lot about how we needed to use The Word and our relationship with Christ to build ourselves up in order to pour onto others,” said the team’s captain, senior Madi Given. “Throughout camp there are a lot of times where everyone feels kind of drained, but we would just look at each other and be like, ‘Fill it up!’ And they’d say, ‘Pour it out!’ And we’d all sing it together. It just helped a lot and made everyone so much happier and more encouraged.”
The result was even more respect for a program that has earned its place among the nation’s best.
At the Universal Dance Association College Spirit Camp in Santa Barbara, Calif., attended by all 33 team members, GCU won the …
- Leadership Award, voted on by the other college teams in attendance
- Superior Award (for all of GCU’s dancers earning a blue ribbon for their individual evaluations)
- Most Collegiate Award (for being good ambassadors of the University)
- Outstanding Game Day Award (awarded to only two universities at the camp – GCU and Nevada-Las Vegas)
(GCU’s Cheer team and its mascot, Thunder, also dominated the awards at their camp and will be featured Friday.)
- Placed first for Home Routine (choreography prepared at home and used to compete against other schools)
- Were awarded the “Dance Star” ribbon for dance excellence, character and performance (no other team had full team ribbons)
- Won the “Hardest Working Team” award (given to only one team at camp and voted on by the staff), which qualified GCU for a fully paid trip to the USA National Championships
No wonder coach Jacque Genung-Koch is so excited about her eighth team at GCU, one she considers her most talented technique-wise. But she never forgets where that talent comes from.
“Everywhere we go, people say, ‘There’s something different about your team,’ and all I can say is, ‘It’s Jesus,’” she said. “My prayer is always that He be our head coach and I’m his assistant coach. So when I walk in every year, they know that’s where I’m coming from. It’s not a secret.
“We’re striving really hard to be the most Christ-centered team we can be toward each other and love each other like Jesus did. Yes, we’re all human and, yes, we’re all going to fail, but as long as that’s what we’re moving toward, that’s just super exciting for me.”
Of all the awards the team won, the Leadership Award stood out – thanks to those Christ-centered qualities that stood out when dancers from every participating school were mixed in the classes that also were part of the camp. It is the result of voting where each participant is asked, “If you couldn’t be on your team, which team would you want to be on?” The majority picked GCU.
“That was something we really wanted this year as a team, not to prove to ourselves that we’re good enough, but just because that’s the type of team we want to be,” sophomore Chloe Anglin said. “We call ourselves a sisterhood, and it’s supporting ourselves and supporting other dancers. It’s not supposed to be competitive when you go to a class; you’re supposed to work your hardest and do your very best, but you’re also supposed to be lifting up the people around you.”
So they were intentional about it: They made it their mission to learn the names of at least two or three other women in the classes. It sent a message, one they ingested while doing their summer reading, “The Power of a Positive Team,” by Jon Gordon.
“Reading that book helped us a lot,” Given said.
So did that night practice, in its own funny way. Finding a vacant basketball court and practicing in the dark is part of the regimen in Santa Barbara, but the GCU dancers turned it into a positive.
“It’s super dark out, like you can hardly see. But I feel like that’s the time when we would really bond together and use the ‘Fill it up, pour it out’ song because we need that extra little encouragement,” Given said. “That’s when we’re so delirious, people are acting more like themselves and you get to know everybody on a different level. It’s just super cool.”
Said Genung-Koch, “That’s my favorite part of camp. They’re just having fun with each other. They think they’re practicing, but they’re bonding.”
It was just another example of why Genung-Koch is so excited about this team. The leaders are leading in the right way – by being servant leaders. The newcomers quickly have demonstrated that they’re all in.
“I feel like this year, more than even any other years, everyone is truly invested in it and not for themselves,” she said. “They’re in it for each other.”
It all comes down to that motto.
“Camp is a very stressful circumstance,” Anglin said. “You’re going, going, going all day long, and a lot of times we’re separated while learning different dances at the same time.
“And so when you’re passing a teammate after you’ve been dancing for a while, it’s amazing to have a second to look at your sister and she gives you that ‘I’m stressed out’ look in her eye, and she says, ‘Fill it up!’ and you say, ‘Pour it out!’”
That’s how you create what Given calls “an automatic group of friends … a group of sisters.” This is more than a mere motto. It’s a way of life.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GCU Today: GCU dancers serve as spirit ambassadors