On Your Marks, Get Set, Game! Welcome Esports Coach

Photo Courtesy of Charger Athletics

Zack Pincince, Sports Editor

Over the winter break, newly-appointed athletic director, Sheahon Zenger, announced that the university will add an esports team as a varsity program. Esports varsity programs have been growing across the country, with more than 130 active collegiate esports teams nationwide.

To lead the new team on campus, Zenger hired as head coach Corey Parks, a professional gamer with a decade of experience. Parks was previously head coach for the Defiance College esports team, where he led a team ranking in the top eight in the country.

Parks said he’s excited to be a part of the university’s new program.

“Esports varsity programs are a dynamic world that relies on the foundation of students,” said Parks. “We all care about getting the W at the end of the day, but esports and varsity programs are a lot more than stat lines and records, and we will strive to showcase our character, professionalism, and overall success outside of video games.”

The team will be housed in a new 1,600-foot training area, which is being built as the centerpiece of the $35 million Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation. The arena will include 24 top-notch gaming computers with wall mounted displays, a team meeting area, and other displays throughout the training center. The esports team will go hand in hand with the new concentration in esports management that the university will be offering in the fall of 2020.

The program will be a part of the university’s business management degree.

The first varsity esports team was formed at Robert Morris University-Illinois in 2014. Since then, more than 100 other schools have formed teams, even at big-time athletic programs such as Ohio State and LSU. Adding esports teams to a university is one way to get a foot in the door to what is becoming a lucrative field. The esports industry is valued at over $1.4 billion within the next year. Entering the esports field opens the opportunity for new sponsorships and media deals for the university.

Anyone interested in joining the varsity esports team should fill out the interest form on the school’s athletic website.