Students benefit amid club sports growth
By: Maria Adams/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff
Past, present, and future. A shining spotlight?
The focus? The student-athletes.
GCU Club Sports was officially established in 2013, and since then, the department has seen significant growth and success under the leadership of director Dan Nichols. Club sports has transitioned from operating with just a handful of teams to now having over 30 different available sports, with several teams earning national rankings and championships.
Nichols takes no credit for the progress and accomplishments of GCU Club Sports. He instead is quick to give the praise to a student-centered system as the driving factor in these triumphs.
“It’s the competitiveness and drive of the students that steers the whole thing,” said Nichols. “The students want to be a part of something that really tests them. It is special because they are choosing this commitment.”
Club sports challenges the students athletically, but the program serves to build young leaders as well.
“Club sports is ultimately set up for student leadership,” said GCU Club Sports Assistant Director Mark Nelson. “Whether they are running an entire program as a student coach or they are just influential among the team, they are leaders. So, we put together leadership classes and a curriculum to come alongside them and give guidance.”
Nelson heads this leadership program and has developed an 8-to-10-week course that offers selected student leaders the opportunity to hear from different speakers, participate in workshops, and fine-tune their leadership abilities and techniques.
While the students already have so much to gain through club sports, Nichols isn’t stopping there.
“We want to involve the students even more than we already do,” said Nichols. “There is potentially a future opportunity for them to get involved in broadcasting, streaming, game ops, and administration. They may not be able to find jobs in athletics while they are students, but we can give them some of that experience.”
The development of club sports is already a noteworthy achievement, but to Nelson, this is only the beginning.
“Dan has created a sustainable model that will allow GCU Club Sports to continue to grow,” said Nelson. “When everyone is working and pulling the rope in the same direction, you have the chance to accomplish big things.”
Interested in getting involved in GCU Club Sports? Click here to learn how to join