HUNTSVILLE, Ala — The Calhoun Community College Athletics Department is excited to be among the first in the state to announce the addition of Esports as a competitive gaming program beginning fall semester 2020.
Esports also known as electronic sports, e-sports, or eSports, is a form of sport competition using video game consoles. Esports takes the form of many competitions ranging from organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players, individually or as teams. Organized competitions have been a part of the video gaming culture for many years as they were held mostly between amateur gamers until the late 2000’s. During that time, professional gamers and spectators in those events through live streaming witnessed a huge spike in popularity.
In September of 2019, The NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association), which is the national governing body of two-year college athletics, partnered with the Chicago-based Legacy Esports and New York-based EsportsU to announce the creation of NJCAA Esports. This association was created to provide two-year colleges with governance, competition and official national championships, while also providing guidance and positive development for two-year colleges to build and operate esports programs at their respective colleges.
This week, Calhoun’s maintenance team has been busy painting and wiring the gaming spaces. The new competition gaming room will consist of gaming chairs, monitors, and headsets.
“Words cannot express how excited we are to introduce such a fun and innovative program to our students,” commented Dr. Joe Burke, Calhoun Interim President. “Gaming has become extremely popular across the world, and it continues to grow globally as this competitive sport attracts participants from diverse age groups and backgrounds,” added Burke.
According to the Calhoun Esports coaches, competitions will begin this fall, and the team will compete as members of the NJCAA Esports Association. Currently, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are the games listed on the team’s gaming roster. “At this time, we do not have set schedules, but we are looking to begin recruiting for our esports team,” commented Casey Knighten, Calhoun Esports Coach and Multimedia Audio/Video Technician. “We know gaming is extremely popular among our student base, so we hope to attract some of the best gamers in North Alabama to represent Calhoun while competing against other students from community/junior colleges across the nation,” added Knighten.
Esports teams typically range from 20 to 30 gamers. To be considered for the team, students must be full-time (12 hours), in good academic standing, and must meet the NJCAA eligibility requirements for athletes.
“As we continuously seek out creative opportunities to enhance the student experience here at Calhoun, we felt bringing something such as gaming would put us on the right track,” commented Dr. Patricia Wilson, Vice President of Student Services. “Gaming brings so much more than fun for our students, it is also an ingenious way to sharpen their soft skills such as being a team player, which is a vital workforce skill,” added Wilson.