A passion for school spirit, a love of community, a hunger for sport, Gonzaga Kennel Club provides Zags with a feeling of pride and energy every game day. Whether that be attending basketball games in the legendary Kennel or watching a soccer game underneath the bright lights on a back-to-school fall night, Kennel Club is there to hype students up and give GU student athletes the support they need to pull off the big W. 

“The Kennel Club is a community uniter,” said Kennel Club Brand Representative, Crissy Lubke, in an email. “Whether you like sports or not, the Kennel Club is a great exemplifier of what it means to have pride in your school. We rally behind our student-athletes, but we also rally around each other.”

This year’s 2020-21 Kennel Club Board is stacked with a lineup of creative, electric GU students who are pumped for a spirited year. 

Serving as president on the Kennel Club Board, Clare Martin, said in an email that the board is meeting weekly over Zoom to brainstorm ways to promote Zag spirit around campus despite the pandemic. She also said that she is more than excited for Zag Nation to start cheering on the athletes again, even if it isn't in person. 

“Though we may not have sports to cheer on yet, our board members are uncovering ways to bring Zags together, planning events through Kennel Crew, engaging in the Spokane community through Kennel Cares, coming together for COVID-friendly Social Club events and finding twists on existing traditions,” said Danielle Petretti, Kennel Club vice president, in an email.

Petretti oversees class representatives, communicates with the athletics department, and supports the board and club alongside the president, chief of staff and treasurer however she can. 

Macy Ryan is chief of staff this year, and she is in charge of overseeing administrative tasks, including setting up and organizing meetings, updating the other board members, supervisors and the athletics department on things that are in the works.

The 2020-21 Kennel Club Treasurer is Austin Versteeg. He oversees the Kennel Club’s budget and investments while working to minimize financial risk for the club. Versteeg said in an email that he is looking forward to the Kennel Cares event this Saturday.

Kennel Cares, a sub-division of Kennel Club, is holding an event coming up this weekend where they will be working alongside a GU grad, and current GU graduate student, Rick Clark.

Clark runs an organization in Spokane called “Giving BackPacks” that works to collect and distribute supplies to people experiencing homelessness. 

Kyle Thiede, the Kennel Cares Coordinator, has been working hard and planning this event. The Kennel Club will join Clark for a distribution of bus passes, COVID-19 supplies and backpacks stocked with necessary items, Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. 

According to Thiede, they will be handing out over $10,000 worth of bus passes.

“Events are a vital piece of The Kennel Club experience and COVID-19 has definitely presented some challenges in that realm,” Lubke said. “However, the Kennel Club Board has been hard at work making sure those events are still taking place in some capacity.”

Petretti said that the Kennel Crew is working on hosting COVID-friendly Social Club events to bring together upperclassmen and planning more events for the remainder of the semester and into the spring.

Lubke’s passion for Kennel Club and working with the board comes from the ultimate support system it brings. 

“There is nothing that shows community better than 'Zombie Nation' when you are jumping in unison with 1,200 of your closest friends,” Lubke said. “The Kennel Club is something that brings people together.”

Despite the slow release of the game schedule that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, it has brought time for reflection and evaluation of faults in the past. 

“Working with DICE, UMEC and other services on campus, we've come up with a plan moving forward to create a more inclusive club,” Lubke said. “On the inside, we are having constant conversations surrounding topics of race, diversity, equity, inclusion and how to better support the students of Gonzaga.”

Kennel Club is the biggest club on GU’s campus, and it is still recruiting members. The Memberships Coordinator, Blake Fry, is in charge of membership packages and organizing distribution of memberships. 

“We tried to bring a lot more value this year in our memberships package by putting together a great pack for our members,” Fry said. “Throughout the year as well we are going to do whatever we can to bring more and more value to this club.”

Fry also focuses on working with vendors to find products for membership, pricing out items, sorting inventory and adding other perks throughout the year for all Kennel Club members. 

Class representatives are the main point of contact for each class and are responsible for communicating necessary information for upcoming events.

This year’s senior representative is Abby McKee, who also doubles as the Social Club coordinator, as such she plans events for students who are 21 and over. McKee said that even though they are working through challenges, the class representatives are working hard to brainstorm ways that each class can get involved in school spirit. 

Daniel Kireopoulos is the junior representative. He is also the Tent City coordinator, where he plans tenting events for students all over GU’s campus. 

“One Kennel experience that had a large impact on me was doing Kennel Crew my freshman year and seeing how close all the board members were and how inclusive they were of all of us freshman,” Kireopoulos said in an email.

Sophomore representative, Scott McLellan, doubles as the Kennel Crew Coordinator. McLellan operates Kennel Crew, an open club to all students at GU. 

“Kennel Club represents who GU students are at the core: we work hard, we are kind, we support our friends, we support our community and we are always positive,” McLellan said, in an email. 

Sam O’Connor serves as the freshman representative, where he communicates with the freshman Zags every week via email and social media. 

“Despite being brand new to Kennel Club, I can already feel the family environment created by the other member of executive board,” O’Connor said, in an email. “Even barely knowing them I feel connected to them like they are lifelong friends. The reason I love it is the same as the reason I joined, the community.”

As the graphic designer for Kennel Club, Adam Mazurek works with all board members and class representatives to deliver social media content. He designs the merchandise that Kennel Club gives out to members and building promotional designs.

Emily Schwartz and Jason Siegle are the 2020-21 Kennel Club sports representatives. According to the duo, their position’s responsibility is to promote and plan events around both fall and spring sports. This year, Siegle and Schwartz have adapted into event planners and “minutemen” for wherever help is needed. 

According to Schwartz, the two will be more involved in the sports side of things this Spring semester. As of now, they continue to brainstorm and make connections. 

Bella Ghirardo serves as the Vegas Coordinator and Zagnation representative. Her responsibilities include planning the Vegas trip for 21+ Zags during the WCC tournament and organizing Zag nation, which spreads Kennel merchandise to alumni and family.

“I’m excited to see how creative we can get in planning things while still following COVID guidelines of course,” Ghirardo said, in an email.

Allie Noland is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @allie_noland.

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