We’re gonna get a little local with this post. Or at least, more local than we do in our stuff that’s statewide-Arizona-oriented, which of course is what we’re all about. (See “State Forty Eight.”)

But this one has a tighter focus. Sort of. That’s because of a question we get by email or through the website sometimes. And that question is:
“Do you have Grand Canyon University apparel?”

Or sometimes it’s “Do you have Grand Canyon University shirts?” We know what they mean. And either way the answer’s the same: “Why, yes! Yes we do.
Now, we could just let it go at that and you could stop reading right here, scroll up and click “Shop” and pick yourself out a nice GCU shirt. But we thought we’d take a few minutes to explain why we can answer yes, and why GCU is kinda special to us. We’re guessing it probably is to you too, if you’re the one asking that question.

How well do you know GCU?

Even if you’re not a GCU student or alumnus, you know at least this: It’s not the only university in Arizona. There are three in the state university system: Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. But outside of that, in case you’re not up on your History of Colleges in the 48th State (3 credits), here are some questions you might miss on the final, even if you go in wearing your new Grand Canyon University apparel for luck:
Was GCU the first college in Arizona?
No. That was University of Arizona, founded in 1885 in the Arizona Territory, 27 years before this became State Forty Eight. That’s the same year ASU was created, not as a college but as a “normal school,” which is what they used to call teacher training institutions. (They also taught animal husbandry, which is not what it sounds like, and mechanics.) Also, UA was chartered first, and there wasn’t really any money left for the second college.

Why? Just for fun, read about the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature that created both. Good times in the 1880s: The notorious “Thieving Thirteenth” apparently sobered up long enough to create a couple of colleges, but some people aren’t so sure.
Is GCU the biggest college in Arizona?
No. That would be ASU with enrollment somewhere around 110,000 when you add up campus students and online. GCU is No. 2, with about 90,000 combined; 25,000 or so of those are on the Phoenix campus.

Technically the largest is University of Phoenix with more than 250,000. But the only thing “Arizona” about UoPX are their offices and web servers. They have small campuses all over the country, including in Phoenix, but even those are receiving 100% online classes. So we’ll set them aside.

Sometimes you’ll see GCU’s combined enrollment listed as the biggest, but that’s because ASU doesn’t always add their online enrollment to the 75,000 or so on campus. (It’s complicated.)
Does GCU have a Ski and Snowboard Team?

No. That would be Northern Arizona University. And only NAU. Because there are four things you need for a college ski and snowboard team: college students, skis, snowboards and snowy mountains. NAU, in nearly 7,000-feet-up-Flagstaff, had numbers 1 and 4, so they bought the other two.
So, since GCU doesn’t qualify for any of those distinctions ...

Why does SFE carry Grand Canyon University apparel?

Here, in no particular order, are some reasons GCU is special to us:
  • Some of us went there — Also some relatives, spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc. So “Hail to thee, our alma mater!
  • They have cool colors — purple, black and white — but purple is the money color. They’re so proud of that one you’ll hear them say “Paint the Valley purple!” (Around here, “the Valley” is what we call the Salt River Valley, or just the Phoenix metro area. And GCU wants that to be all purple. How cool would that be?!)
  • They also have a cool team name: the Antelopes, named for these. But that’s kinda hard to cheer, so they usually shorten it to the Lopes. Their mascot is Thunder the Antelope, which is also cool, though you don’t usually associate thunder and antelopes unless maybe it’s a herd running away from the thunder. But not this Thunder. Huh-uh! This is one bad antelope. (Though if his nose was red you might mistake him for … ummmm … somebody else. But he’s not that. Or she’s not. We don’t know how to tell with antelopes.)
  • There’s a hand gesture that makes kind of an antelope, too, and is usually done along with the GCU fight song. Watch for the part that goes, “Let’s go, Lopes!” Practice a couple of times, then you can Lope along!
  • It’s not true that there was a rap version of their fight song recorded by Left Eye, but don’t you wish there was? And finally ...
  • Their slogan is “Find your purpose.” Kinda uplifting, huh?

So take a look at our GCU swag

The colors are all there, black and white and purple — and that’s a rockin’ purple, BTW. You’ll also find a ’lope or two, and some hoop, and of course, our State Forty Eight logo.

That Arizona-shaped logo has to be there, because that’s something we and GCU have in common: pride in our state. No, GCU wasn’t Arizona’s first university. And it’s not the biggest.  But GCU had enough pride of place to name themselves after our state’s biggest — and we mean biggest — claim to fame.

And that’s a whole lot of pride.