Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Augustana Adds eSports

Although the NCAA does not officially recognize eSports as a team sport yet, the number of collegiate teams around the nation has grown exponentially over the past few years.
After working to get the proper approval, the necessary facilities, and adequate funding, Augustana College is now among those colleges who will be hosting an eSports team.
“Dr. (Andrew) Sward and I were tasked by (President Bahls) last year to explore the possibility of starting an official eSports team,” Augustana professor David Thornblad said. “We spent most of the last academic year looking into solving the issue of bandwidth as well as a location for the students to play and practice on campus. Once that was settled, we developed a budget and presented it to the President, Provost, and Dean – all of which were very supportive. The next step was setting up recruitment meetings.”
During the process of approval, Thornblad was also tasked with fielding an executive board to help run the eSports operations. Once the board was established, he was able to take on a more supportive role instead of leading the operations.
In order set up an executive board, recruitment meetings were formed for students to attend. At the first meeting, which yielded as many as 50 students, elections were held for eSports President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
Receiving the title as President was sophomore Michael Salamone, who is still focused on the many tasks that lie ahead.
“I have a lot of different roles right now,” Salamone said. “Some of the things include setting up a Constitution with other members, making sure people are staying friendly, making sure things are organized, making sure we have proper funding for what we’re trying to do and keeping communication going among everyone on the team.”
Salamone was unsure how events would unfold following the initial meeting, but he is pleased with the progress  so far.
“Right now, we are mainly concerned with getting the house set up, because that is going to be the main hub,” Salamone said. “Honestly, the amount of help we’ve received has been overwhelming – and at times, maybe a little too much. The house is where we will hold practices, hold events, and just be a place to hang out. To see so many people interested in helping move this team forward is incredible.”
Once the house is set up, the plan is to better organize teams, according to Salamone. There are currently five to six League of Legends teams at the varsity level and three to four teams at the JV level. Each team typically consists of five players and a coach.
The Augie team has also been participating in some competition recently. The schedule has mainly consisted of scrimmages, with the most recent being against Northern Illinois. The rest of the competition has been mostly online competitions against any available opponent.
Salamone admits things are still slightly disorganized, but that is of little concern to him at this time.
“The main goal right now is to get people out of their dorms and be more social in a friendly environment,” he said. “We are really trying to unite groups across campus that normally would not come into much contact. We want to get people on the chess team hanging out with basketball players and stuff like that.”
eSports schedules are different compared to traditional sports such as football, basketball, and others, but the goal is to eventually be competing against other collegiate teams at the highest level possible.
Whatever the long-term outcome, Thornblad hopes the fun-spirited nature of gaming will remain the same for the Augustana eSports program.
“My hope for this year is that we firmly establish the eSports team on campus with all of the equipment they need to be successful and have fun,” he said. “Longer term, I want the team to gain regional or national recognition for multiple games and be invited to tournaments. However, whatever happens, it is most important to me that students make friends, learn how to work as teams, and gain leadership skills.”

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Augustana Adds eSports