Student leaders create a Havoc-racy of untamed student solidarity

New Havocs leaders (from left) Wilson Neitzel, Quintin Medor, GraceAnn Stewart and Luke Stoffel.

Photos by Ralph Freso

The Havocs have maintained a national reputation for their spirited displays, leading student fan cheers and dances for Grand Canyon University at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament two of the last three years.

But this year’s group of 18 Havoc leaders, led by president Luke Stoffel, have set out to show that being a Havoc means more than going bonkers at games. And it starts with their lid-lifter, the pep rally event Lope-A-Palooza on Friday night.

“One of our goals this year is to find those students who might feel uncomfortable or came to the game by themselves and kind of uplift them,” Stoffel said. “That’s how we create our team — as servant leaders who uplift those who might not have as many friends or haven’t found a community yet.”

Havoc leaders urged GCU students to community exuberance during the 2022 Lope-A-Palooza.

That’s why Lope-A-Palooza is showcasing the inclusion of all students.

“We shifted a bit this year,” said Jesi Weeks, Spirit Programs Senior Manager. “It was focused on our NCAA sports. But the message of Havocs is everyone is a Havoc, no matter if you like sports or not. GCU’s biggest strength is community.”

That’s why student groups such as the Canyon Activities Board, Spiritual Life and Associated Students of GCU also will be highlighted, both in the festival outside of GCU Arena before Lope-A-Palooza and with shout-outs and videos during Lope-A-Palooza.

Jesi Weeks

“We want to be a representation of what GCU truly looks like,” said Weeks, who leads the selection of Havoc leaders each year. “I’m not just looking for one personality. I’m looking for those who can approach the student who looks out of place, or those not afraid to talk to a big group, or for those that are creative.”

The seniors in this year’s group are the first to go through all three years under Weeks, and she’s seen them grow as people. They are infused with six rookie leaders who bring new ideas.

“We tell them to share your ideas, you are the closest to being a student Havoc, and we need to know what they want,” she said.

Quintin Medor knew what he wanted. As a cheerleader last year, he found that he felt deep connections with the Havocs and decided to transition to being a rookie leader.

“I just saw them being themselves,” he said. “There was a comfort in that.”

That community is often built through showing up loud and proud at sporting events.

“Students can feel the energy in these events. They can feel it and know they are as welcome as anyone else,” said Wilson Neitzel, Havocs vice president.

How do they create that energy?

“It starts within yourself,” said Stoffel, who was Havocs vice president last year. “Say I am at a game as a Havocs leader. If I don’t care what anyone thinks and I am going crazy enjoying the game, that is what someone can look at. It’s more action than words.”

Havoc leaders train for weeks prior to the start the semester, coming up with the vision for the year for big productions such as Midnight Madness, Camp Elliott and big games. They had discussions about keeping the best traditions while injecting new ones. This year they will bring back game themes such as “God Bless America Night” but resurrect popular “White Out” and “Black Out” games and ones to spotlight freshmen residence halls.

Music is their outward expression of Havoc-racy.

The Purple Pregame Party is its signature, an untamed few minutes of amp up before a sporting contest, retaining the standard anthem, “We Like to Party,” a campy Eurodance disco (bum-bum-bum-bum-bum baaa de-bum) while injecting news songs and mixes.

They come up with songs and mixes that seem just right for the occasion.

New Havocs leader GraceAnn Stewart is director of social media.

“Anytime we need a big hype moment, we headset over and ask (the DJ) to play a song,” Stoffel said.

They feel like it has helped the team return to those highlight experiences of their Havoc life — NCAA tournaments in Indianapolis and Denver in 2021 and 2023.

“There is definitely an intimidation factor,” Neitzel said. “I’ve heard players say that even they have to get used to it, but they love having it on their side.”

GraceAnn Stewart, director of social media, added that at those moments in the Arena, the creativity she uses to lure people to the community spirit of being a Havoc is a visible, visceral feeling.

“You have hundreds of people and it’s just a special time in community,” she said. “I hope that can continue to soar into something super special and that every student that steps on campus knows they are a Havoc and has a place here.”

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected]


Related content:

GCU News: Joyous: What makes GCU's campus so happy?

GCU News: Havocs bringing their creative spirit to Indianapolis


Calendar of Events

M Mon

T Tue

W Wed

T Thu

F Fri

S Sat

S Sun

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

0 events,

6 events,

3 events,

2 events,

0 events,

3 events,

3 events,

3 events,

3 events,

2 events,

0 events,

0 events,

2 events,

5 events,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

2 events,

0 events,

0 events,

GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)

To Read More: