Tryouts for esports at East Central University will be on July 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Esports Gaming lab inside the Bill S. Cole University Center. As of this year, ECU Tiger Esports will be competing in League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League.
The tryout event is for high school students who are becoming seniors, or those who just graduated high school.
Esports is a relatively new venture for ECU, compared to its physical sport cousins such as football, soccer or any activity inside the Kerr Activities Center, but not entirely unknown.
Esports has taken off in several local high schools and across the country as a varsity sport, allowing gamers to compete as varsity teams in tournaments and other competitions. Just as other sports allow athletes to grow in their abilities and compete with scholarships on the collegiate level, so will the esports athletes at ECU under new direction from Esports Coach Cody Soden.
“It’s a team sport that requires a lot of practice, skill, leadership and competition,” Soden said. “These are skills gamers don’t always get.”
After a sputtering start in early 2020 and the later success of the club on campus, esports is taking flight yet again, this time with scholarship opportunities.
Soden said scholarships are now offered for incoming freshmen and more tryouts are slated in August, after the fall classes begin.
“This will benefit students staying in school as well as studies show studies show students stay in school when they are involved in sports,” Soden said.
Soden said he looks forward to ECU students learning from the esports program. He referred to statistics that show students majoring in journalism, business, entrepreneurship, law, computer science and social work tend to find careers in some aspect of esports. ECU offers study in all of those areas.
His vision for ECU Tiger Esports doesn’t end with just its athletes and students, he wants to work with existing local high school teams.
“I want local schools to come to ECU to compete together and grow each other’s programs,” Soden said, envisioning a yearly tournament at ECU. “We have competitions for sports, band, and even academics, so why not esports?”
ECU Tiger Esports competes under the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) supervision that monitors eligibility and compliance, comparable to the NCAA oversight.
For more information on ECU Tiger Esports or tryouts, visit ecok.edu/esports, email email@example.com, or call 580-559-5651. ECU’s esports are also on Discord, Twitch, Facebook and Instagram.