When Kara Seratte was on the dance team at Grand Canyon University (GCU), she wanted to use her platform to grow her faith and share Jesus with others, but dance was not included in sports ministry.
Wanting to make a change, Seratte and other members of the GCU dance team began attending the campus FCA Huddles together, and they even began serving on leadership. As their faith grew and they pressed in, God moved in the lives of everyone on the team. They went on a mission trip to Africa together, and in the last year alone, three women have been baptized.
Coach Jacque Genung-Koch has been a vital part of ministry to the dance team, as well as Kelly Schmidt, the FCA collegiate director for GCU. She serves as the team chaplain and leads the team every Wednesday in chapel.
Out of a desire to make dance ministry possible for other young dancers, Genung-Koch, Seratte and some other dancers approached Schmidt and asked if they could begin offering dance at camps. The result? In 2018 FCA began offering dance at a camp for 7th through 12th graders.
“This doesn’t exist anywhere for dance,” Genung-Koch said. “It doesn’t exist in studios and very rarely in churches.”
Girls who desired to dance recreationally attended the camps, but it was outside their comfort zones. Genung-Koch said it was great to watch them become vulnerable and then blossom to connect with Huddle leaders in ways they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. They learned new choreography at the camps and were able to use it to perform at games when they returned home. Overall, the camps helped attract students who would not have come had dance not been included. They are now planning to offer dance at a camp this summer in Flagstaff.
“FCA is one more way to support young dancers and to help them grow in their love for Jesus,” Genung-Koch said.
Anna Ellwein, a senior on the GCU team who was previously on FCA leadership and even completed a discipleship training, said her involvement in FCA has shown her how her faith relates to her current stage in life as an athlete. She says everyone on the team takes something different out of the messages, and the ministry allows them to connect with other like-minded believers.
“It’s neat to see a team that is very intentional about incorporating the spiritual side of a relationship with Jesus,” Schmidt said. “They are also competitive, and they are winning.”
Ellwein also said having people hold her accountable and cheer her on throughout her college experience has been essential. Today, she continues to help lead a team Bible study, and they often discuss what Kelly has shared with them in chapel.
God is moving in the GCU dance program, and it’s becoming more and more obvious.
Over the past few years, the team has won five national championships. Genung-Koch says other teams have approached her at competitions and asked what’s different about them. Knowing there is no other real difference in terms of training and skill, she’s had the privilege of being able to say the difference is Jesus.
“It changes our purpose, our reason and our why,” Genung-Koch said. “We get to dance for something bigger than ourselves.”
Genung-Koch said having Schmidt mentor the team means the girls have a reinforcing voice that is reiterating some of the same messages she gives them.
Schmidt says the experience has been an example of God opening the door fulfill FCA’s mission to reach every coach and athlete. She says the opportunities for growing this aspect of the ministry are exciting, and she hopes to offer dance at more camps and include more dance coaches in Bible studies in the future.
The FCA community has been extremely receptive to the inclusion of the dance team as a part of the ministry, and Schmidt credits Genung-Koch’s support of the ministry over the years as critical to growing it to what it is today.
Overall, Schmidt said the dancers have learned they can influence the culture of their team instead of letting the culture influence their team, and she sees it as an honor to help train the next generation of leaders:
“It’s given them confidence in their identity in Christ in that they have the ability to impact their teammates for Jesus.”
Pray for Coach Jacque Genung-Koch as she recruits new members for the GCU team. She is asking God to place the right people on the team who can be impacted by the experience. Other requests include prayers for the opportunity to offer dance at a camp this summer in Flagstaff.
Teammate Anna Ellwein ask that the GCU team would rest in the fact that God is in control.
“As an athletic team, we are still affected by Covid and the repercussions it can have,” Ellwein said. “Pray for peace in knowing that whatever happens this year, whether it’s good, bad, uncomfortable, celebratory or scary, it’s all in God’s hands.”
You can find more information on supporting Kelly Schmidt HERE
Photos courtesy of Jacque Genung-Koch