11:19 AM

Esports Comes to UST

esports playerUniversity of St. Thomas announces the launch of their brand new Esports program on campus to bring an Esports club, competitive team and educational curriculum to its student activity, athletic and academic offerings.

Esports or electronic sports, is a form of athletic competition for video games and it often takes the form of organized multiplayer video game competitions between players. Contestants typically compete individually or in teams. Esports has also recently became known as an intramural club activity as well.

Esports at UST

Esports development on campus is under The MAX and Chief Innovation Officer Beena George’s purview. George has worked to engage industry partnerships and develop the educational roadmap.

Justin Pelt, UST’s new Assistant Director of Esports, will handle the day-to-day operations, coaching and provide leadership for the on campus club. He will work to develop the framework for the club, which will begin this fall, and the competitive team, which aims to make their competitive debut in spring 2022. He is also laying the groundwork for internships and volunteer opportunities. Pelt hails from Austin and has been playing video games since childhood and is excited to parlay that passion into a career.

"The rapid growth of Esports has created a demand for professionals with the right mix of education and experience,” George said. “Working with our highly experienced industry partners, we plan to offer multi-disciplinary programs that connect coursework and experiential learning to prepare our students to excel in this growing industry."

Esports is an Athletic Sport, SCAC Supported

If you thought video gaming, first introduced into homes in the 80s was just a hobby, that avocation can now be turned into a career either as a competitive player or through college courses/degrees.

Colleges and universities entering this cutting-edge market will have a new avenue for student-athletes, who may not play traditional sports, to compete. Student athletes in this sport will be held to the same high standards as other athletes. When Esports is formally developed on campus, student athletes will play in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference or SCAC.

SCAC Commissioner Dwayne Hanberry recently remarked on SCAC’s role, "Our goal at the conference office is to assist our membership in creating memorable experiences for students. We believe this event is another avenue to do that and with a segment of students who perhaps don't get that opportunity in what would be considered the traditional athletic arena."

The current esports titles that the conference competes in consist of: League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros.

Esports is Big Business, Olympic Sport

With more viewers than any other athletic event, esports will soon eclipse traditional sports in yearly revenue. As a matter of fact, the International Olympic Committee and Intel, one of the world's leading multinational technology corporations, have partnered up to announce the Intel World Open, an esports competition that will take place in the run-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Kicking Off a Career in Esports

Students interested in competitive video gaming have several ways to kick-start a career in esports – These include

  • an internship
  • Trying out for the competitive team
  • joining a club
  • going down the education route
  • Going pro

According to a Pearsons Education 2020 report, jobs in the esports field are growing exponentially. The skills that candidates need depend on the sector – many require a degree in that specialty – event manager, social media specialist, marketing manager, software engineer – but all demand passion for games and competition.

Intro to Esports Course Offered

New partner, North American Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF), will assist UST to announce the availability for high school students to take UNIV 2393: Intro to Esports this fall.. This course will be taught by instructors from the world of esports – chief executives at Mainline.

Internships Available

Pelt, has been working with UST partners Six Foot and Mainline, who office on the UST campus’s commercial buildings, to post current internships before the team is even formed.

“Students will receive hands-on experience at live-events with nearby partners Six Foot and Mainline” Pelt said.

Playing on the Team

When recruiting, Pelt is looking at student athletes through the same lens that the athletic coaches use. “Esports, like other traditional sports, require the same kind of concentration, training, and competitiveness,” Pelt said. “Just like at other universities you have a baseball or soccer team that are both considered ‘sports’ but play completely different. While all esports titles are considered ‘video games’ each title requires specific skills and knowledge to play at a high level.” He said.

He goes on to say that just “like the other athletes on campus, esports players need to maintain a good GPA, be willing to give back to the community, practice and learn to be a team player.”

Looking for Club Members and Leaders

As far as the club, Pelt knows that some students have found an opportunity to thrive as leaders within their esports clubs, and he is looking forward to presenting these opportunities to students here on the UST campus to create traditions and legacies future students will have to follow.

Asking for Volunteers to Help Coach

Pelt’s goal is to recruit volunteers to help coach. “There are so many games and all require specific skills and knowledge. As we grow, we will be looking for coaches who will be knowledgeable and experienced in the tactics and unique characteristics of each one.” he said.

This fall, Pelt is planning several events, starting with their inaugural esports welcome week event planned for Aug. 31. Following the welcome week event, he is plans on having club meetings twice a month. Pelt said his biggest wish is for the esports gaming club to be student-run. He would like for the students to feel like they’re the ones driving the club forward and use him as a catalyst to reach the goals they set forth. For example, he plans on leaving the name of the future competitive up to vote for club members.

To find an esports internship, go to Career Services Handshake platform. To learn more about esports on campus and the events, go to www.stthom.edu/esports.