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Esports growing in popularity; Hastings College to add varsity team

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:27 AM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Hastings College esports team is planned to start up in fall 2021 as a competitive club. The club was later to be transformed into a varsity team the following academic year.

In September, Hastings College esports coach, Andy Chase, said they were in the stages of recruitment and making the new program run as smoothly as possible.

“We’re getting the equipment, making sure all that’s ready,” Chase said. “We’ll be competing later in the fall, and then going into the spring we’ll also be competing. Just kind of working on team chemistry.”

Chase added, the recruitment was going well. He said he had students interested in joining both on campus and more than 200 high school seniors that were looking to take their gaming to the next level.

On Saturday, Chase is planning to attend an esports tournament at Grand Island Northwest High School for recruitment purposes and to see how high school-level esports worked.

Matt Hinkel, a teacher, esports coach at Northwest High School and the board president for Nebraska Schools Esports Association, said he had some seniors looking into the esports team at Hastings College.

Hinkel added, he’d experienced a number of situations during his time in NSESA where people didn’t take the gaming sport seriously, but he added, it was much more than that.

“Competitive video games where you’re teaching kids how to, you know, work as a team,” Hinkel said. “You’re teaching them how to be social, you’re teaching them some of those skills, yeah sports is teaching them but, now its in maybe a way they’re interested in with video games.”

He continued, Northwest had been offering the gaming team for at least three years, but the sport hadn’t been introduced to Nebraska until around five years before 2021.

Chase said when he was in high school, esports wasn’t really a thing.

“Seeing it grow into such a big thing locally, nationally, internationally, is such a cool thing,” Chase said.

Chase said they had already chosen what four games they’d initially offer with their collegiate esports team including, Rocket league, Valorant, Overwatch and Hearthstone.

Students had the opportunity to join the team on scholarship. Following tryouts and once a team was formed, Chase said the players would first be working on getting accustomed to the games as well as learning the pace the teams would play at.

He added, Hastings College was also looking at adding the games: Super Smash Bros, Call of Duty and League of Legends.

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