Concord University’s new esports program hit the ground running last month with the hiring of Head Coach Jacob Neerland.
The competitive video gaming team is on track to start competing against other schools as early as next semester.
Neerland’s role as head coach of the competitive video gaming team is much like any other when game time rolls around.
“Whatever you’re doing on a competition day, that’s the level you’re at.” Neerland said. “So, my job is to make sure they remember everything that we train during the weeks, everything we train and practice, everything that we talk about during meetings, because it’s really easy to forget that in the moment especially when there’s pressure involved.”
So far, the focus for Neerland and the university has been to recruit players for the team and club in order to build from the ground up. The team is registered to play three different games, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Call of Duty, with the National Association of Collegiate Esports, the esports equivalent of the NCAA.
But the esports program at Concord is shaping up to be more than just a team that competes against other schools; Neerland wants use his background in public relations and marketing to create a community that helps students grow personally and professionally.
“We’re not only trying to involve students in competition or playing, but also in ‘what can I bring to the table professionally for my experience’ and help them learn as we’re going through the process of building” Neerland said.
Concord’s president, Dr. Kendra Boggess, said she strongly supports the program due to all the new jobs emerging from esports.
“There’s communications, graphic design, business, there’s all of those things that go into creating a new type of economy” Boggess said.
The program already gave Concord student Zoe Colley an opportunity to work with something she loves while gaining professional works skills.
“I post a lot of social media myself, but I haven’t been able to do it for a business and that’s something that I’ve really wanted to do” Colley said. “So, being able to do it for a team can help me gain the experience to do it later in life because I know that it will be important in any area that I work in especially in today’s society.”
One thing is clear for sure: Concord is ready to get their head in the game, with the full backing of their administration.
“We hope that will bring people who normally like those things but didn’t see that opportunity” Boggess said. “There are not a lot of schools in the country doing this but it’s growing by leaps and bounds.”