Recruiting is on for Esports Coaches, Players

Above%2C+senior+English+and+mass+communication+major%2C+Zoe+Laporte%2C+playing+%27League+of+legends.%27
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Recruiting is on for Esports Coaches, Players

Above, senior English and mass communication major, Zoe Laporte, playing 'League of legends.'

Above, senior English and mass communication major, Zoe Laporte, playing 'League of legends.'

Above, senior English and mass communication major, Zoe Laporte, playing 'League of legends.'

Above, senior English and mass communication major, Zoe Laporte, playing 'League of legends.'

Daniella Amendola, Editor-in-Chief

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The university is forming an esports team.

Esports, or competitive video gaming, is a popular activity at colleges and universities throughout the nation.

Chuck Edkins, the Director of Athletics, said  the university wishes to diversify offerings for existing students and attract new ones. He hopes esports attracts  prospective students who may not have looked at Misericordia before, as was the case when the university added track and field, football and lacrosse.

“Esports right now is growing in popularity, is the number one activity for young people, literally, from ages 12 to 24, and we knew it would be an opportunity to help with enrollment management,” said Edkins.

Edkins said esports may also diversify the type of students on campus. Young men and women are recruited to be esports competitors, similar to how students are recruited for any other sport such as lacrosse or football. Existing students may also join.

“We put a survey out during this process, in the Fall, and we had about 60-plus students who responded, saying, ‘I’d be interested,’” said Edkins. “And then we held an organizational meeting, about 30 of those were part of it as well, and it was a conversation. They were educating us, and we were educating them as well, a little bit.”

The team is offering three sports: League of Legends, Rocket League and Hearthstone.

Although additional games may be added, Edkins said the university must be careful to ensure they are in line with the mission of the university.

“So again, a critical concern of the Sisters is non-violence, right? And women and children. So some of the games do depict some violent activities, and some of the games depict women in, perhaps, not the best light. So we would want to make sure that we are staying in line with the mission.”

There is also the possibility that the number of people playing on a roster could be expanded.

University officials decided to put esports under Athletics because esports involves teamwork and goal achievement, and it teaches players to deal with adversity and victory.

Edkins said he plans to hire a coach for each team.

“So the coach would organize the practices, would work with our representative. We’d have a full-time representative on campus who won’t be a coach, but would be like an administrator for that team. They’ll work with them in conjunction for practices and competitions and go from there. So the coach will be recruiting, the coach will be selecting the team, and the best and most appropriate players will be playing on game day,” Edkins said

A dedicated place for the team to play is secured on the fourth floor Mercy Hall.

“We are working with our IT people in order to set things up, so from the computers to the monitors to a dedicated server as well. Chairs, a uniform— and we’re in the process right now of hiring the coaches.”

Edkins said he is working with NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which will assist with scheduling and tournaments, and it will provide contacts “throughout the esports community, which obviously is nationwide, is international as well, but for us it will be played on a national level, and because everything happens on your campus site there are no travel costs or meal costs.”

Students might be attracted to the games for different reasons. For senior English and mass communications and design major Zoe Laporte, the team simply fit in with her established interests.

“I really like playing video games in my spare time, I really like watching eSports, and I think it’s really cool to have a team like this on our campus,” said Laporte. “Usually, if I’m playing a video game competitively I just get matched up with random people who I don’t know, but being able to play with a legitimate team is a really cool idea to me.”

She added that she is “really excited to see where it goes.”

“You’ll have practices, games, competitions, the whole thing,” LaPorte said. “Practices won’t be in Anderson or on a field, though, they’ll be in a room with a ton of computers. Similarly, you’ll go against other schools who have the same program that fall into our division.”

Laporte said she plays League of Legends the most. In her free time, she likes  to play Overwatch. “Like, I mean a lot. I’ve probably spent a good thousands of hours in that game.”

Laporte is not positive how the competitions will operate at this time, but she knows it will not be a traditional traveling team.

Laporte said fan involvement is also different.

“Instead of having people sit and watch the players like they would for any other sport, they’ll most likely be watching the game through an online service like Twitch. At bigger events, like Overwatch League, the teams face off against each other in these giant rooms but that can be a goal for the future.”

Laporte advises anyone who is interested to join.

“It’s such a fun and different approach to sports. It’s just such a cool thing to be a part of a huge moment in Misericordia’s history. I’d say if you play video games at all, join! It’s an awesome way to turn a hobby of yours into a part of your college career.”

 

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