Lopes’ athletes devote themselves to new positions
By: Zach Melcher and Maria Adams/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff
New roles. New opportunities.
Ashley Leon and Dylan Sanchez have been chosen as the GCU Club Sports July Student-Athletes of the Month. These athletes have found new beginnings within their respective teams and are looking to make an impact in their following seasons.
Ashley Leon: Artistic Swimming
From the pitch to the pool.
Lopes’ junior Ashley Leon has played soccer starting from the age of eight. However, a serious knee injury during her senior year of high school forced her to retire from playing sports.
Or so she thought.
After transferring from Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science at Grand Canyon University, Leon started to get the itch to compete again.
“I had been involved in athletics all my life,” said Leon. “I missed going to games and making memories with teammates.”
Looking for a sport that would require less stress on her previous injuries, the first-year Lope found a new home with the Grand Canyon University Artistic Swimming team.
“I knew it would be difficult because it is a combination of dancing, gymnastics, and cheerleading in the water,” said Leon. “I wanted to give it my best and see how it went.”
Luckily for Leon, the years of conditioning and kicking soccer balls helped her “stay afloat” within her new sport.
“I have really strong legs, and the bottom strength I developed from soccer helped me,” said Leon. “Your feet can’t touch the bottom, so your legs are going nonstop for an hour.”
Leon is no stranger to hard work and attributes her motivation to be successful from the struggles of her sibling. After receiving a full ride to the University of Arizona, Leon’s brother let his grades slip and was forced to drop out.
“My brother had a big influence on me, and I learned a lot from his mistakes,” said Leon. “I pushed hard in school and received a good GPA, which helped me earn a scholarship to GCU.”
Being involved with artistic swimming has also impacted Leon as a student-athlete.
“Artistic swimming has taught me self-discipline and time management,” said Leon. “Nothing comes easy in life, and preparation plays a huge role in handling school and club sport commitments.”
Dylan Sanchez: Flag Football
Lopes’ senior Dylan Sanchez has always loved the game of football and jumped at the chance to join the Grand Canyon University Flag Football squad upon his arrival to campus. Now in his final year as a Lope, Sanchez will take on a new responsibility as freshly appointed GCU Student Head Coach.
“Growing up, I played a lot of tackle football,” said Sanchez. “When I found out that GCU had a flag football team, I really wanted to be a part of it and see if I could make it even better. I hoped to rally some school spirit because I know a lot of students want to support a football team on campus.”
Sanchez played three years of varsity football at San Dimas High School in San Dimas, California, before he brought his talents to GCU. From his high school days to his collegiate career, he has constantly worked on improving his skills on the field, but Sanchez has noticed that football has also provided him with a social outlet.
“I have always been outgoing,” said Sanchez. “I was worried that when I got to college, it would be harder to connect with people, but flag football helped surround me with people who had similar interests.”
In the classroom, Sanchez is working towards a Bachelor of Science in Applied Management. After graduating, he plans to put this degree to use by one day taking over his father’s pool service company back in San Dimas.
In the meantime, Sanchez has his eyes fixed on giving flag football the best opportunity to succeed.
“We want to have a lot of tournaments lined up,” said Sanchez. “I think we could really make it a high-degree sport on campus. Now, I just need to get people to come out of their shell and show up to play some football.”
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