Playing one sport in college is a difficult task. Playing two is nearly impossible. Excelling in both is even more rare but that is exactly what sophomore health science major Matt Gillingham is doing.
Gillingham, a starting defensive tackle on the football team as well as a key member of Misericordia eSports Rocket League team, has made a tremendous impact on both. In football, he is a terror in the trenches, causing havoc on most plays by simply overwhelming opponents with his mix of hand violence and strength. On the sticks, he is a goal-scoring machine.
Gillingham arrived to the Rocket League team late but made an immediate impact and met some fellow students who shared his passion.
“I played the game pretty hard over this previous summer, so when I heard that Misericordia had eSports and one of them was Rocket League, I knew I wanted to join,” he said. “After meeting with Greg Lewis [director of eSports] and finding out more information on the team, I decided to join the roster three weeks late. Also, I thought I could find some friends at Misericordia that also played the game.”
Initially, the workload required for Rocket League and football was almost too much for Gillingham to handle, but he eventually settled in. Having to dedicate so much time a week to sports is an incredible task, so thankfully the Wind Gap, PA native was able to find a balance between school and athletics.
“With football being about three hours a day and up to even three and a half hours then Rocket League practice being about two hours, there is definitely a struggle sometimes with managing time,” he admitted. “Once I came to the realization that those two hours of practice for Rocket League would have probably been the same time me playing in my dorm, it made sense. I use Rocket League practice as my gaming time and do school work the rest of the time.”
The flying cars in Rocket League have actually helped on the turf, as well.
“I would honestly say that video games have helped me with football. In football, things happen very fast and you need to be able to react to those situations accordingly,” Gillingham said. “Video games, especially the ones that require fast thinking and making good choices, have helped me get better with making quick choices in football.”
While it is difficult to see how video games and sports can be intertwined at first, Gillingham makes a great point about reactions, as both are critical on the sticks, as well as on the field.
Speaking of the field, while Gillingham’s raw stats are not eye popping, the disruption he causes when he is in the game have allowed him to go from a rotational member of the defensive line his freshman year to becoming a starter this year. Even though his playing time has increased, his favorite memory was his first win as a member of the team.
“I have a bunch of great football memories, but I would have to say my favorite so far was the Widener win last year,” he remembered. “Because I just transferred to this school that fall and the program was 1-9 before that, so beating that team off of such an incredible play was awesome. The emotions were so high all around.”
The Rocket League season ended on Halloween with a 3-0 loss to Aquinas College, Gillingham’s regular season for football was scheduled to Nov. 16 when the Cougars traveled to Alvernia University.