Family Weekend's return to fall is cheered

Robyn Hord introduces the Parent Council during the Chapel service at Family Weekend.

Photos by Ralph Freso/Slideshow

Family Weekend and October. They just go together at Grand Canyon University.

“That’s where we belong,” said Robyn Hord, Parent and Family Programs Coordinator.

So it was back in its rightful spot this weekend with 2,825 family members joining students for a long list of activities. And Hord couldn’t have been happier.

“Look around. They’re here. It’s fantastic,” she said.

Thunder Bolt prize winner Tracy Reese of Minnesota hands Thunder more Lope Shop items during her 30-second shopping spree.

Hord had to make the best of it the last two years when the pandemic forced University officials to combine Family Weekend with Homecoming in March.

Bringing thousands of people to campus in 2020 was out of the question, and there still were too many question marks at the start of the 2021-22 academic year to risk it.

But this summer, when it became clear that COVID wasn’t a deterrent anymore, Hord and her staff scrambled to construct a schedule that featured some new events, some old ones and something that hadn’t been done in five years – the 5K race was back for the first time since 2017, and Hord wants to make it a staple.

The Thunder Bolt, a drawing in which the winner gets to grab all the Lope Shop merchandise they can in 30 seconds, returned. Tracy Reese of Minnesota was the winner.

Raegen Mulcock, age 6 (left), and Rori Dalmacio, age 7, are lifted up by GCU Dance team members Hailey Jimenez and Ellice Mills during the Lil' Lopes Cheer and Dance clinic.

Also back in the fall was the Lil' Lopes Clinic, an opportunity for youngsters to try out their cheerleading chops.

A new event that proved valuable was the Student Life Panel, with representatives from Residence Life, Student Housing and Student Care.

“Every time I have families on campus,” Hord said, “I want them to understand the why of what we do.”

The men’s soccer game, which included a tailgate, drew a crowd of 3,263.

Kids had a ball being inside a big plastic ball for bubble soccer.

And Hord wants to make the Saturday night movie an annual event, too.

Parent Council member Fred and Anita Luster browse the Student Market.

Family Weekend, whenever it’s held, also is an opportunity to bring the Parent Council to campus. Hord brought them onstage for the special Chapel service on Saturday morning, introduced them by the regions they represent, then encouraged other parents to meet with them outside GCU Arena afterward.

Two of the council members, Fred and Anita Luster, said they were approached by several parents. The most frequently asked question: How can parents encourage their children, especially freshman, to get more involved in the plethora of campus activities?

The Lusters come to campus twice a year from their home in Wakarusa, Indiana, 40 minutes southeast of South Bend, so they would have come this fall no matter what happened with Family Weekend. But they were happy to have it back in October and not part of Homecoming.

“It is nice, not having to compete with basketball, because that was kind of crazy to schedule everything around,” Anita said.

A young player gets stuck upside down in his bubble while playing in the bubble soccer game at Canyon Field.

She and her husband are always happy to escape the Midwest winter for Homecoming in early March, but any trip to Phoenix works for them.

Said Fred, “The first time I stepped on campus, I said, ‘This is a no-brainer,’ as long as they had the academics.”

No problem there. Their son Kyle, a senior, is majoring in data science.

Parents of seniors were the only ones who had experienced a true Family Weekend before – the last one was in 2019. Considering that unfamiliarity, Hord was happy with the turnout.

“It’s pretty good for a comeback year,” she said. “We’re on the comeback trail.”

Contact Rick Vacek, Senior Manager for Internal Communications, at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].

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Related content:

GCU News: Homecoming Family Weekend makes big impression

GCU News: Family programs give parents clear view of GCU

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Calendar of Events

M Mon

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W Wed

T Thu

F Fri

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4 events,

3 events,

2 events,

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3 events,

6 events,

Integrity Week

Integrity Week

4 events,

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3 events,

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5 events,

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Chapel

Chapel

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