Lopes set example for fellow teammates
By: Maria Adams and Giovanni Hicks/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff
Winners for the past, present and future.
Kendall Nagai and Trey Bowman were selected as the March GCU Club Sports Student-Athletes of the Month. Both Nagai and Bowman are experienced upperclassmen on their respective teams where they have grown in their skill level and displayed to their teammates what it means to be a successful club sports student-athlete.
Kendall Nagai: Club Beach Volleyball
As the eldest and most experienced member of Grand Canyon University Club Beach Volleyball, junior Kendall Nagai became a leader among the squad – on and off the sand.
“The team consisting of only underclassmen gave me the opportunity to step into a leadership role – not only in volleyball but also just being there for them as a friend,” said Nagai.
Nagai began her athletic career playing indoor club volleyball at just 11 years old, and shortly after that, she hit the sand for beach volleyball. During two of her high school years, Nagai and her club beach volleyball partner qualified to compete in the AAU Junior Olympics Championships, facing the best competition the country has to offer.
“Kendall is a very talented player,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Mia Rivera. “She made the team better. It did not matter who was on the other side of the net, she always showed up ready to play her best.”
Nagai is working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Health Science. She has managed to maintain a 4.0 cumulative grade point average while also being a member of the GCU Honors College. Nagai also actively participates in intramurals as well as GCU’s Occupational Therapy Club and Best Buddies Club – which pairs students with individuals who have an intellectual or developmental disability.
Nagai currently holds a position as a behavior technician at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), and hopes to earn a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy upon graduating from GCU in December.
While GCU has allowed Nagai to continue playing beach volleyball competitively while chasing her career aspirations, she is most thankful for the university’s spiritual element.
“I love the Christian values present on campus,” said Nagai. “The opportunity to grow in my faith was important to me, and GCU has met that need.”
Trey Bowman: Club Spikeball
It’s been a two-way street.
The Grand Canyon University Club Spikeball program and one of its top players, Trey Bowman, owe a lot of their success to the other. Bowman joined the club in his freshman year, and just played for fun, but through guidance from the Lopes’ Head Coach Devon Mitchell, Bowman went from a casual player to a successful competitive spikeball athlete.
“The GCU Spikeball program has improved my game immensely,” said Bowman. “Getting consistent competition against others and practicing serve mechanics with the team has been the biggest factor in my improvement.”
As his skills progressed, so did his recognition. Bowman began entering in competitive spikeball tournaments through GCU and other spikeball associations and performed well enough to make a name for himself. In January, Bowman and his brother Taylor received the No. 2 and No. 10 rank, respectively, in the 2021 Colorado Roundnet preseason rankings. Bowman lived up to his prestigious rank, taking home first place in the Utah Roundnet Association 2021 Dixie Major Elite Division alongside teammate Chandler Hertzler. After the win, Bowman entered the URA 2021 Sin City Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada as an eighth seed, and – along with teammate Solomon Berry – finished tied for fifth place. The only reason they didn’t aspire higher was they were knocked out in the quarterfinals by the No. 1 team in the division.
“I had a lot of fun competing in these tournaments,” said Bowman. “There were times where I felt nervous and worried about my play, but my teammates were there to pick me up.”
Along with being an accomplished spikeball athlete, Bowman is currently a junior at GCU earning his bachelor’s degree in business management. He is also employed as a referee for GCU Intramural Sports.
“Trey brings a strong sense of encouragement and positivity towards his peers,” said Mitchell, a former GCU Club Sports Student-Athlete of the Month himself. “He’s a hardworking individual and does a good job at balancing school, work, and his commitment to the spikeball program.”
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