Worcester, Mass.- The New England Collegiate Conference (NECC), in conjunction with Massachussetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), Team Genji and Redbull, presented their first Esports Showcase on Friday, January 31. Held in the Colleen C. Barrett Center at Becker College, the showcase served as an educational opportunity for attendees, who were able to sit in on numerous panels featuring experts in the esports collegiate landscape.
The first panel, 'ESports at the Collegiate Level' featured Dr. Nancy Crimmin, President of Becker College, Dr. Mike Taberski, Vice President of Student Affairs at New England College (NEC), along with Timothy Loew, varsity esports program general manager at Becker, and executive director of MassDiGI. Loew felt the showcase captured the enthusiasm for the growing collegiate sport. "What a great afternoon talking - and playing - video games," said Loew. "The NECC Esports Showcase clearly demonstrated the excitement surrounding competitive gaming and Becker was honored to host it." The panelists described the positive impact having an esports program has had on each of their campuses.
The second panel 'Building an Esports Program on Campus' was led by the esports coaches within the NECC, Tyrelle Appleton of NEC, Ernie May from Dean College, and Nick Travis of Becker. The coaches commented on the parallels between esports and the more traditional sports, explaining how they have to recruit skilled and talented players, and have set hours for practices. Appleton left the showcase feeling confident about the future of NECC esports. "It was so encouraging to meet other professionals and hear the awesome feedback from those around us. I'm looking forward to our upcoming events. We all took away something positive that day."
The 'Leveraging Parternships' panel included Tim Edmonds from Helix, Jeff Flaherty from Boston Uprising, Clint Kennedy from Play VS and William Collis from Team Genji. The speakers gave attendees an overview on how to create partnerships with gaming organizations, and how those partnerships can help grow an esports program on campus.
The showcase also focused on the student-athlete aspect of esports, with student-athletes from Dean College, Becker College, and New England College on hand to serve as panelists. The student-athletes explained how esports opened up doors for students who may not participate in traditional sports, allowing them to be part of a team and represent their school while doing something they love. The student-athletes also participated in a gaming showcase, with a Super Smash Bros. Tournament and an Overwatch friendly match being held throughout the afternoon, allowing visitors to watch the gaming experience firsthand. Dean College's Kevin Shay or "Tiger", collected the NECC's first ever esports trophy, coming out victorious in the Super Smash Bros. Tournament.
Caleb Glube, a gamer at NEC, assisted in the organization of the event, and received positive feedback from the students on hand, saying "they thought the Smash tournament was run extremely well. And with the Overwatch and League showcase games there was a lot of interest from prospective players, as well as people from the event."
Glube looks forward to esports falling under the NECC umbrella saying, "My biggest hope for the future of college esports is that we see an attitude change." He continued, "This is where the NECC stands out. Our main goal is to run our league by creating simple yet fair rules on how to do things and having a schedule in which teams follow like any other sport."
NECC Commissioner, Jacob VanRyn, was encouraged by the success of the event. "I thought things went really, really well and it was terrific to have so many industry leaders share their thoughts and opinions." He added, "I certainly hope and believe it was valuable to those in attendance, as I've already heard from a handful of folks about the program and the content." VanRyn was also impressed with the student gamer turnout, commenting, "With regards to the gamers that came to play, I really wasn't surprised by how seriously they took the event. One of the great things about esports is that when it's time to play, people are definitely ready to go."
ABOUT THE NECC
The NECC began competition in the 2008-09 academic year and current member institutions compete across 15 sports. The NECC membership focuses on providing athletic competition among institutions that share similar academic aspirations and are committed to the importance of the total educational experience for students engaged in sports. Current members include Bay Path University, Becker College, Dean College, Eastern Nazarene College, Elms College, Lesley University, Mitchell College and New England College.
MassDigi is a statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem. Established in 2011, MassDiGI is the result of creative collaboration among academia, state government and industry, aimed at fostering the growth of the innovation economy in Massachusetts.
ABOUT GENJI ESPORTS
Team Genji is a premier competitive esports organization which began competing in 2016. Today, Team Genji fields world-class rosters across many of today's most popular esports.