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Midnight Madness: GCU students camp outside for basketball kickoff

Hundreds of GCU students camp out in preparation for the basketball team's Midnight Madness scrimmage Firday night. This annual gathering of students is known as Camp Elliot. (Photo by Sarah Farrell/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – On Tuesday at the campus of Grand Canyon University, over 200 tents lined the courtyard area as well as the entrance to the university’s basketball stadium. In them, hundreds of eager students await the highly anticipated Midnight Madness event on Friday night.

This annual Midnight Madness is a pep rally where the audience will get their first opportunity to see the basketball team in action for the new year.

“My freshman year, it was great, and it’s getting better. There’s 7,000 people screaming, dancing, cheering for hours. It’s amazing,” said Alessandro Lever, a senior center for the men’s basketball team.

The area of campus in which the students camped out is referred to as Camp Elliott, and it acted as the students’ home away from home for a few days.

Senior Piercen Gaborko joined forces with four of his friends in a tent for the third consecutive year in order to get their spot in line to attend the event.

“We get to see the players in their more natural setting. They’re not as tense as they would be in the game,” Gaborko said. “It’s the starting point, a good hope for what we’re going to have this season.”

The GCU players passed out pizza and met with fans and students to show their gratification for the camp out.


Normally, the main draw for Midnight Madness is an intrasquad scrimmage for the men’s team, but this year the staff decided to have an NBA style skills challenge involving the women’s basketball team as well.

Students typically organize their tents for GCU home games, but according to the GCU Havocs, the on-campus student section, this particular event set the record for the largest campout attendance the campus has ever seen.

“It’s incredible. It makes it easier to come in here, work every day, and go to the gym late at night,” Lopes guard Isiah Brown said. “If they could do those things just to come watch, we should be able to … put our work in so we can put on a show.”

Piercen Gaborko is a senior sports management major at GCU. This is his second time camping out for Midnight Madness. He and his friends arrived Tuesday afternoon, and got the 10th spot in line. (Photo by Sarah Farrell/Cronkite News)

Equipped with electricity supplied by the campus lightposts, residents are able to carry on about their normal daily routines in a different environment. Most come well-prepared with televisions, gaming systems, air mattresses, cooling fans and other amenities necessary to make the time spent outside a bit easier.

“Camp opened up at four o’clock on Tuesday, but we had some people out here on Monday night getting ready,” Gaborko said.

The routine serves as a way for the community to come together, Gaborko said, and for many, the fellowship with one another was more of a reward than the impending Midnight Madness.

“It’s just good to reconnect some of these people that we don’t usually see in our normal everyday lives,” Gaborko said.

Freshman roommates Faith Childers and Sydney Skipper decided to camp out to meet new people and get more involved in the community.

“I spent a lot more time with a lot of our friends than I usually would have, because I’m always stuck in my room,” Childers said. “It was just a lot of fun.”

For Skipper, the three days served their purpose.

“Everyone’s just really nice to each other, helping each other out, making sure everyone’s just having a good time,” Skipper said.

The Midnight Madness event takes place Friday night at Grand Canyon University Arena at 11:15 p.m.

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