Hutchinson Community College esports team joins NJCAA league


Queenofthe1s, Valorant team captain, Elise McGillivray, yells “take this bread!” to her teammates as they prepared for their first game of the night against Shelton State Community College October 7.

She and her teammates, including Christyn Howard, Theta13, couldn’t “take” the win that night, but that didn’t stop them in their goal of reaching the playoffs for a championship later in the season. season, according to their leader. coach, Heath Hensley.

Each player has a unique gamertag, like Queenofthe1s and Theta13, identifying them in different matches. Players are allowed to choose these tags and often keep them in all of their other games.

A new sport for the HCC NJCAA list

This year, Hutchinson Community College added a new sport to their NJCAA list; e-sports, commonly referred to as esports, is a new area of ​​competition for casual gamers turned athletes to appear on the national stage.

HCC built an esports arena in the basement of its student union’s campus recreation center, which opened in January.

HCC esports started in November 2020, but they moved to the national stage after being accepted into the NJCAA league. Now his teams compete with other NJCAA programs across the country.

Hensley created the opportunity to join the league after speaking with the HCC athletics board, convincing board members of the field’s competitiveness.

“We’re not going anywhere unless we step onto the national stage,” Hensley said.

Since starting the team, they have been able to offer scholarships to athletes, and since joining the NJCAA league, they have more funds to give to their athletes, Hensley said.

Sport shares many aspects with traditional sports – the amount of athlete training, the game scoring system, the training involved, and the strain it can put on the body.

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What are esports athletes?

The HCC esports team consists of 15 members, all competing in one or more of the eight games the team participates in, including Call of Duty: Cold War, Call of Duty: Warzone, Overwatch, Valorant, Rocket League, Rainbow 6 Siege, Super Smash Bros: Ultimate and NBA 2k21.

For some of these games, especially Rainbow 6 Siege, their matches can exceed an hour and cause eye strain. One of the co-captains, Howard, explained how this can take a toll on the mind.

“While it’s not physical it’s mental, so if we miss a shot that causes us the game, it follows us through the next game, and it’s so much harder to recover,” said Howard. “It’s a lot more exhausting mentally than physically. So I know there are times when we’ll come (in the arena) and then come home and go to bed because we’re exhausted from the game.”

Esports matches are played the same way as any other traditional sport; Hensley often has to speak with boards and trustees due to his recent appointment to an NJCAA eSports competition committee.

“We have team captains who are kind of like quarterbacks who decide the game,” Hensley said. “They decide the strategy and whether or not it works is up to them. The scores are kept the same if you want to win. There are so many rounds you have to win to win the game.”

The group split the Call of Duty: Cold War team into two teams, Crimson and Blue. Howard is one of the two co-captains of the Call of Duty: Cold War Crimson team and began his competitive career when the esports organization started at HCC.

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Create a team environment

During his freshman year at HCC, Howard applied to join the team, but his playing career began early in his youth.

“I’ve been playing video games since I can hold the controller, so I liked the original Nintendo, the original Xbox, and grew up in video games quite competitively,” he said. she declared.

Howard is part of the Call of Duty: Cold War Crimson team and the Call of Duty: Warzone team, but his experience as captain has taught him a variety of new competitive strategies and new ways to be a competent leader.

“You can create the chemistry of players who have never played before,” said Howard, “this is a rare opportunity that Crimson has, and I love working with all of them.”

Skylar Franklin, SkyKing, the captain of the Overwatch team, left Iowa to compete with the HCC team and plans to attend Wichita State University after graduating from HCC to continue his career in esports.

According to Franklin, he spends around 40 hours a week training to keep his skills up to date.

“I expect the most of myself to spend my time on it, but what I expect from my team whether they play in the game or not, I expect 100% to be,” Franklin said.

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Franklin pushed his team and won his first game on the NJCAA league stage, seeing it as an important bonding experience with his teammates who are considering moving to universities in the future.

“A lot of us are in our sophomore year here, and we’re probably all going to go to Wichita State where we’ll try to play for the team there, so it’s just to bond and move those friendships forward. “, Franklin mentioned.

Call of Duty: Cold War Crimson team co-captain Jennifer Florez-Mendoza, Kini, joined the team this year, her freshman, and along with her fellow co-captain Howard, she learned that being a leader is more than making calls during a meeting.

“A lot of (leadership) overall just keeps their cool because I know too many people who get angry easily,” said Florez-Mendoza.

The future of esports

Esport still has a long way to go. It was only recently that the NJCAA created its esports league, while the NCAA has yet to adopt its own league, which has led to several Division I universities joining the NJCAA league.

“We play against a number (of universities) Wichita State University is a member of our community colleges as Fort Scott, Garden cityCarl Albert State in Oklahoma, we played Sainte-Claire College from Ottawa, Canada and University of South Carolina Sumter, Hensley said.

The team also plays against several community colleges participating in the NJCAA league across the country. According to Hensley, he hopes to add more like Fort Hays State University to the league in the future.


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