An interview with the esports Coach
Explanation of the team, where we are located, and how/when we compete with physical attendance options The UJ Esports team competes in competitive video game titles across two seasons each year. The titles we compete in are Call of Duty, Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch 2, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Valorant. Our facility is located in the basement of the Hansen center on campus at the University of Jamestown. We normally compete entirely remotely. Due to the nature of video games, we can connect instantly with schools all over the country and we stream our games live on our Twitch channel at https://twitch.tv/uj_esports. Due to us competing in this way, we don’t have the same opportunities for a live audience so we like to give everyone a chance to watch from wherever they may be. We also occasionally hold live viewings of our competitions up on the gym floor in the Hansen. These events are a great opportunity to get a live crowd experience and our players love getting to play in front of an audience every once in a while.
- Player perspective How did you join the program? How long? I originally joined the program during it’s first year of competition in 2017. My older brother was the coach at the time and was looking for one more Hearthstone player. I had just started playing the game during my breaks at work and told him I’d be willing to walk on and give it a try! I went on to compete for 5 years throughout my undergraduate and graduate years and it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. What games did you play? I played Hearthstone, a virtual card game, for 3 years and then spent the last 2 years competing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which is a platform fighting game created by Nintendo. What does it mean to be in esports as a player right now? Esports is an ever-growing scene and being a player right now holds a good deal more significance than it used to. Players in the collegiate scene right now are on scholarship to play and have a chance to be a part of a greater team than what they’re used to. We see players at the college level that rival the skill of top ranked players across the titles they compete in and some even have the chance to go on to play on professional teams as well. There are so many opportunities for players today to grow and succeed and I’m very thankful to have had that chance for such a long time.
- Has the environment around esports changed since you were a player? The scene continues to grow exponentially each year. I feel that esports has been a relatively undiscovered thing to the normal person but with how much traction it’s gained at the professional, collegiate, and high school level, more and more people have realized the legitimacy of it. Parents are more accepting of their kids having a chance to compete and get scholarships for esports, more and more coaches and directors are finding career paths, and the list continues from there. esports will even soon be an Olympic sport and that’s something that is truly amazing to see. If you could, would you compete again? I’ll admit that sometimes, especially being a coach and being around games 24/7, there is the occasional itch to get back into competition. However, I’m more than happy with how I spent my career as a player and the fact that I can now help my student athletes succeed and get that experience for themselves. Every once in a while I’ll hop into a few casual games with the team, but that’s about it and that’s totally okay with me!
- Coach perspectiveWhat encouraged you to apply for the coaching job? Esports has been such a huge part of my life for the last 5 years that I couldn’t pass up on an opportunity to make a career out of it. My brother started this program almost 6 years ago and I’ve been a part of it since it’s creation. It has a special place in my heart, and I want nothing more than to see it grow and succeed. I’m just very thankful that I get to continue to be a part of that and lead the team in a positive way.
- Since your brother started this program, has that relationship changed the way you view the team? Josh has given me a lot of really great perspective on how to be a better coach but also how to be a better person. He actually works for the company that provides our computers and equipment, so I now have another relationship with him as a business partner as well. We don’t always see eye to eye on everything but I trust him more than anyone in the scene. He’s taught me how special this team can be and he could not have been more right about it.
- Do you have a core philosophy for your coaching? Coaching in esports is a lot different than traditional sports but its also similar in a lot of ways. We still have team-focused drills, practices, video reviews, competitions, and much more. My main philosophy for coaching esports is coaching mindset. Coaching 8 different titles at a high level just isn’t feasible for the average person so I focus a lot of my energy on coaching motivation, healthy habits, and teamwork. The goal in esports is to make your teams as self-sufficient as possible while still providing them the tools they need to succeed.
- How do you want people to view the program? A few years ago, I would’ve answered this question a lot differently. At the time I would’ve said that I want people to view esports like any other traditional sport and give it the same respect. Today, I would actually encourage people to not compare it to traditional sports like football and volleyball. While a lot of the philosophies could be similar, I think that esports has created its own world and its own ecosystem and it deserves to get credit for that. I mainly just want people to recognize the legitimacy of it and realize that it is incredibly entertaining and provides endless opportunities to those that get to be a part of it. People can support the program simply just by watching a livestream and that is more than enough. Take it seriously… because esports is here to stay