Adam Ide, Sports Editor & Caleb White, Online Editor
Nearly every student has seen the state-of-the-art esports lounge in the middle of the Hagan Campus Center. Unfortunately, it is rare to see anyone utilizing the space, and if it is in use, then it is usually by a lone gamer. This year the esports team has high hopes for revamping the esports lounge and being a more competitive athletic team on campus.
“I had Eric Gobiel, the director of athletics, reach out to me and say, ‘Hey… we’re looking to revamp this esports program, are you interested?’ And I said, ‘Wow, this could be something,’” said Kadin deRuijter, resident director on campus and the new director of the Assumption esports program.
Under deRuijter, the esports program has already made significant progress. DeRuijter’s new approach to building the team’s infrastructure has proven to be immensely successful thus far.
“This semester will be spent restructuring and making sure we have a community on campus,” he said. “[We want to be] having an engaged community where people actually come down and get to know people here.”
In order to establish the esports team on campus, deRuijter hopes to open up the esports lounge to the student body. He hopes this will create a sense of community around the team that can be built off of.
“It’s going to make the program much more visible. It’s going to be an outlet for a specific community on campus that can provide for [students] that makes them feel comfortable here at Assumption
By making the program community-centered and then building athletics out of that instead of … [to] make the athletic team and then try to get a community to support those athletic teams encourages people who are just casual gamers who just want to enjoy their evening with friends.” replied deRuijter when asked about the benefits of having the esports lounge open to the public.
Community building will be a staple of deRuijter’s team this year.
“A lesson I’ve learned is that our game is not an individual sport. Even if our matches are played alone, we can all help each other get better. I hope this year, we can form a real sense of community with the esports team, and I think we can achieve it in our new [director]. The creative ideas he comes up with have me looking forward to the rest of the year.” said sophomore team member Joe Mitchell when asked about deRuijter’s focus on community.
DeRuijter hopes he can cut through the bureaucratic red tape to institute the changes to the esports lounge as soon as possible. Once deRuijter’s transformation of the lounge is complete, the space will be reorganized to be a welcoming environment for students. The door will be propped open with live games streaming to large TVs inside and members of the esports team waiting to welcome and play with any student who is looking to get into video games.
As far as athletics go, deRuijter has already made some advancements working on behalf of the team in order to get competitions back up and running.
“We are no longer part of the ECAC, which was our prior conference, we are part of the NECC. Much better competition, much more competition, better rules, the entire conference is way better.” said deRuijter on the advancements the team has made athletically.
However, the divide between the esports athletes and the athletics department is still a little too wide for deRuijter’s liking.
“Unfortunately, [we] are not as close [with the athletic department] as I’d like to be. Now the whole esports industry is relatively new, and there is a stigma that they are not real athletes. My goal is that with this program … is that esports athletes are viewed in the exact same light as your conventional football athlete.”
The esports team has made leaps and bounds already this semester, with many more advancements on the horizon. If you have any interest in joining the team, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com for more information.