Campus Recreation event shows Lopes play hard

Students were high on life on the climbing wall at the Welcome Back at the CAC event Friday.

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

Amanda Alfaro just touched down from the climbing wall at the Canyon Activity Center.

“It tests muscles I don’t use on a regular basis,” said the Grand Canyon University student. “You don’t climb walls every day.”

She does now.

The junior justice studies major discovered the wall last year because it was something she could do during the pandemic when other events and activities where restricted. She loves it so much she joined a climbing gym over the summer in Los Angeles.

“I love the community here,” she said of the climbers at GCU. “They are all really encouraging you: ‘Try it this way. You can do it!’”

Students had fun paddleboarding on dry land at Friday's Canyon Activity Center event.

That spirit was evident at Friday’s Welcome Back at the CAC, part of Welcome Week. The event introduced students to Campus Recreation programs, including Outdoor Recreation, Intramurals and Fitness. (See photographer Ralph Freso's slideshow here.)

The enthusiasm for the year of recreation is off the charts. Outdoor Recreation has hundreds of adventure trips planned, and the three on Labor Day Weekend were filled in 15 minutes on Not long after, the whole month of trips was filled.

“It seems overwhelmingly that everyone is excited to be doing stuff,” said Matt Lamb, Director of Campus Recreation.

His department has grown with the University.

“When I started several years ago it was just me with about 12 students and one field,” Lamb said. “I have 13 on staff and 250 students.”

And recreation facilities are everywhere on campus, including numerous fields where intramural sports are played, everything from the traditional volleyball and basketball games to the less sweaty game of cornhole. That’s the game where you take a bean bag and toss it through a hole in a slanted board.

On Friday, students showed just how good they are at it.

Bags were launched from long distance at the cornhole competition.

The goal was to beat the Guinness World Record toss of 62 ½ feet set in June. Though there were no Guinness personnel on hand to make it official, that was easily surpassed by a couple of feet in the first half-hour by student Scott Nowell.

“Get height,” he said of his long launch. “Then you can get a bounce into the hole. But mine went straight in.”

They were just getting started. Student Jackson Blackwell nailed it from 82 feet before the event was over. That’s like hitting a three-quarter court shot in basketball but in a tiny hole.

It’s all in good fun. (Sign up for leagues here.)

“Intramurals are as competitive as you want to make them,” said Kava Sauls, a student leader.

Demonstrations of the many fitness classes at GCU were part of the event.

Same for fitness, no matter how fast that guy next to you in spin class is pedaling.

There are more than three dozen fitness class options available to students in five fitness centers on campus, as well as the Lopes Performance Center and the CAC. Students were leading short demonstrations of some of the classes, from high-intensity workouts to yoga.

“The nice thing about the five fitness centers is they are in the residence halls,” said Noemi Howard, Student Fitness Centers Manager. “Students literally roll out of bed, come down to work out, then go back up to shower and start their day.”

Outdoor Recreation information was a big hit at the CAC event. Students learned how to check out gear, sign up for trips and attain new outdoor skills, led by student leaders who became certified in wilderness excursions over the summer.

“My dad planted this in me. He was a recreation guide and ski instructor,” said junior Ashlee Romine of Colorado, one of 26 student trip leaders. “Now it’s something I like to do, too.”

She is leading four trips: a sunrise hike up Piestewa Peak, a paddleboard excursion through Horseshoe Bend, rafting on the Salt River and a backpacking trip to Clear Creek.

Registration for October trips should be competitive.

“They really go fast,” Romine said.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.


Related content:

GCU Today: The Welcome Week that was, via social media

GCU Today: GCU family embraces first-generation students

GCU Today: Project L: Welcome Week’s love letter to diversity

GCU Today: Sophomores carry high hopes for an eventful year

GCU Today: Students are eager to get in the Club Sports game

GCU Today: Pinning ceremony stirs emotion in parents, students

GCU Today: First Impressions: What new students were saying during Welcome Week

GCU Today: Experiencing the sights, sounds of Welcome Week

GCU Today: Initiative welcomes parents into the ‘Lope familia’

GCU Today: Slideshow: Silent Disco

GCU Today: Slideshow: Project L

GCU Today: Slideshow: Spirit of Welcome Week

GCU Today: Slideshow: Canyon Cool Down

GCU Today: Slideshow: Move-In

GCU Today: Welcome Week is here, and the Move-In is easy

GCU Today: GCU welcomes largest incoming class in its history


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(Moses addressed Israel, reminding them of God's deliverance of them from Egypt, and His commands given to them:) "You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out (from bondage and delivered you.). The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear." (Deuteronomy 7:19)

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