A new sport is taking root in the nation — one that doesn’t require extra fields or weight rooms. Calhoun Community College’s athletic department will be among the first in the state to add esports as a competitive gaming program beginning this fall.
Electronic sports, or esports, is a form of competition that uses multiplayer video games. While the popular organized competitions have been around since the late 2000’s, the National Junior College Athletic Association recently partnered with Legacy Esports and EsportsU to create NJCAA Esports. The national governing body of two-year college athletics will provide colleges with governance, competition and official national championships, while also providing guidance and positive development for colleges to build and operate esports programs.
Calhoun Community College’s maintenance team has been busy painting and wiring the gaming spaces.
“Words cannot express how excited we are to introduce such a fun and innovative program to our students,” said Calhoun Interim President Joe Burke. “Gaming has become extremely popular across the world, and it continues to grow globally as this competitive sport attracts participants from diverse age groups and backgrounds.”
Competition is expected to begin this fall, and Calhoun’s team will compete as members of the NJCAA Esports Association. Currently Overwatch, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are the games listed on the team’s gaming roster.
“At this time, we do not have set schedules, but we are looking to begin recruiting for our esports team,” said Casey Knighten, Calhoun’s esports coach and multimedia audio/video technician. “We know gaming is extremely popular among our student base, so we hope to attract some of the best gamers in North Alabama to represent Calhoun while competing against other students from community/junior colleges across the nation.”
Esports teams usually consist of 20 to 30 gamers. To be considered for the team, students must be full time, in good academic standing and must meet NJCAA eligibility requirements for athletes.
“Gaming brings so much more than fun for our students,” said Patricia Wilson, vice president of student services. “It is also an ingenious way to sharpen their soft skills such as being a team player, which is a vital workforce skill.”