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eSports provides a connection, attracts prospective student
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eSports provides a connection, attracts prospective student

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eSports provides a connection, attracts prospective student

Chadron State College students participate in a Just Dance Night, an event sponsored by Eagle eSports, Nov. 16, 2021, in the Hub.

CHADRON – Chadron State College’s Eagle eSports club has grown to about 30 members and is planning an open house Tuesday, Nov. 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Kent Hall north wing, second floor. Signs in the lobby will provide directions to the former stairwell storage room that has been revamped for the club.

Project Coordinator Stephanie Alfred, co-adviser for the club since mid-2019, said there is a cross-section of campus in the club including students from the pre-health professions, business, education, and English programs.

“The whole gambit of majors is involved,” Alfred said. “If you want to study education, but you have a passion for eSports, come to chat and see. You can pursue something that's not incredibly technical. Our doors are open,” Alfred said.

The club has practices, competitive nights, and tournament nights. This fall, they had competitive teams in Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Rocket League. Next semester, plans are to create competitive teams in Overwatch, Apex Legends, Rainbow 6: Siege, and others.

Alfred said students can play the same game in multiple leagues and represent themselves broadly in open divisions to gain experience.

Dr. Chris McCarthy is a co-adviser and gives Alfred, one of his former students, credit for the success of Eagle eSports.

“I knew she was a great leader. She’s been a great resource,” McCarthy said.

Alfred said she recently gave a campus tour to a prospective student who saw an Eagle eSports advertisement, scanned the QR code with her phone, and started talking to the members.

“How great is it if she wanted to play games with us and that helped her choose Chadron State? It's an awesome social feature we offer,” Alfred said.

Alfred said she hears from CSC representatives on the road that prospective students ask about eSports.

“We need to capitalize on that,” Alfred said. “Our club members are incredibly ambitious. They're already thinking about prospective students and how we can bring more people in and recruit on the basis of eSports.”

Discord is the CSC forum where club members post memes or photos, access different text or voice channels, chats, competitive rooms, and a streaming platform. The login process helps Alfred and McCarthy identify students’ interests.

“When students first log into the Discord server, it doesn't let them see all the options because that could be overwhelming. It says, ‘Here's roles. Pick roles for yourself.’ So you can say, ‘I'm just here for fun,’ or, ‘I’m interested in competitive gaming and these are the games I play.’ Then they get access to those things,” Alfred said.

McCarthy sees student involvement and retention as benefits the club provides.

“I think it's a great way to help get some students out of their shells. Maybe they're more introverted, but once they've been embraced by the community on Discord, they're more likely to go (to in-person events) talk, connect, and open up. Just overall, I see a lot of potential for the group,” McCarthy said.

He said CSC students feel it's difficult to be competitive against other colleges whose members are playing in the same room.

“They have a lot of visual and facial communication we don't have right now because we're playing at our PCs at home or in dorm rooms,” McCarthy said. “We'll see what happens with the new math and science building and how everything shuffles out. But I think the next level is dedicated space, just six to eight computers in a lab, to show our commitment. We could get more and better exposure for the college. This is part of the future of collegiate sports and we don't want to be left behind. It's going to be a great resource for awareness and recruiting.”

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