Grand Canyon University

West Coast Soccer Association Team Helps Local School

Grand Canyon University participated in a volunteer community service project last week.  Grand Canyon University club coach, Lance Thompson, and ten of his players staged a clinic for a Fiesta Bowl field dedication at a local grade school.  The appreciation in the students’ eyes was clear at a ceremony for a donated field at Puebla del Sol Elementary School. Fiesta Bowl Charities and partner UnitedHealthcare turned a dirty, rocky field into a grassy area with the turf from December’s Cactus Bowl.

Dignitaries from the Fiesta Bowl, UnitedHealthcare and Isaac School District attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony but the GCU club soccer players were the celebrities to the kids who raced to give them high fives upon entrance.

“When the students saw that Grand Canyon University was here, they noticed how important the field had become,” Pueblo del Sol principal Armando Chavez said. “It’s not just the Pueblo community but it’s also the Grand Canyon community coming out and showing, ‘Hey, we’re your partner.’ It made it real for them. They now have a first-hand image of what they can become – maybe a Grand Canyon student, maybe a Grand Canyon soccer player. Now they have that role model right in front of them. To me, there is nothing more powerful than that for a youngster learning about school and athletics.”

The event included GCU history with the presence of Lopes basketball legend J.C. Helton, who coached and taught in the Isaac district and holds the state record for middle school basketball coaching victories.

GCU soccer players Mo Belahoussine, Peter Delgado-Murillo, Jose Ferreira, Riley Hood, Jeremy Logan, Logan Ray, Tori Roel, Casey Slattery, Camden Vellom and Megan Wojnicki worked four soccer skills stations with the Pueblo del Sol students excitedly rotating through each one.

“I love working with little kids and seeing them connect to you,” said Slattery, a junior who is the president of GCU men’s club soccer. “I tried to get them to get excited about playing soccer. It’s really cool to see that they have a new facility and I want them to all enjoy it.”

At the end of each session, the students were making the Lopes sign with their hands. At the end of the clinic, they were hugging the GCU students before being pulled back to class.

“That’s what we’re all about – the ability to pass on the knowledge that our athletes have gathered and to give back to the community,” Thompson said. “That’s what the mission of the institution at Grand Canyon University is and our club sports program.”