July 20, 2020

Portsmouth, NH – Great Bay Community College (GBCC) is stepping up to the digital plate and will be offering esports programs this fall. Esports have been growing rapidly over the past several years and are becoming one of the most popular extracurricular sports on college campuses across the country. By the fall, GBCC expects to have a coach and team in place and is building out a new gaming lab to house a practice and competition area.

To create a structure and align programming so the team can compete nationally, the college is in the process of joining the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). NACE is a nonprofit membership association organized by and on behalf of the member institutions. The members are developing the structure and tools needed to advance collegiate esports. When NACE was formed in July 2016, only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs. As of July 2020, there are more than 180 institutions that sponsor esports.

Esports brings an already popular virtual activity to the campus, creating an opportunity for students to socially connect with other students and gain competencies in collaboration, communication, strategic thinking and problem solving, decision making and sportsmanship.  For many students, esports builds off a lifetime of gaming exposure as a foundation to develop more advanced transferable skills.

“It’s no secret that students who are involved in extracurricular activities such as clubs or traditional sports and engaged in campus life outside of the classroom realize greater academic success. This is an exciting time for Great Bay Community College, and we are thrilled to be launching esports this fall,” said Tina Favara, vice president of student success and enrollment management.

Esports games rely on real-time strategy, teamwork, mental agility and multiplayer online battles. Interest in the sport is on an upward trend. According to a report by Goldman Sachs, esports — or competitive video gaming — is more popular now than major league baseball. Entire stadiums are being constructed to lure fans and gamers to the booming billion-dollar industry.

GBCC has begun recruiting a team to compete this fall.  Intercollegiate competition planned for the fall will initially include the games League of Legends, Rocket League, Smite, Overwatch and Paladins

“Esports will add a whole new community at Great Bay that is tech savvy. I’m excited to watch matches with other students, participate in games and meet fellow and opposing teams,” said Allison Johonnett, GBCC student and hospitality major, and current esports student athlete who competes in League of Legends matches. “My grandmother was always playing the games of her day and from there I developed my own interest in it. My grandmother beat every single Zelda up until seven years ago. I have her legacy to live up to!” Allison said.

Individuals interested in esports should contact GBCCs athletics director to get involved. Students can play from their own lab and don’t need to travel. However, it’s likely that individuals participating will go to competitions, tournaments and nationals. For more information about the Great Bay Community College Esports program please contact Brian Scott, athletic director, at [email protected].