ESports Team gets a Powerup: Team Uniforms Unveiled
On the second floor of the Baldor Technology Center, a converted classroom is now home to one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith eSports team has been in the works since the summer of 2021, behind the efforts of Dr. Nicki Stancil and Instructor Cody Holt. The spring 2023 semester marked the first time the team, which is composed of five smaller teams, has been “ready and able to” take gaming to the competition level, explained Holt.
“I’m amazed at what actually has been accomplished in the year and a half that we’ve been working on this,” said Holt. “It’s almost breathtaking and almost gets me worked up just to think about how far we’ve been able to bring everything from nothing.”
Now, more than 40 students make up the eSports team – all using top-of-the-line equipment from Alienware. On Tuesday, February 28, the team took another step to becoming a premier destination for students interested in the sport as Stancil and Holt unveiled the new team jerseys.
One of the students who will soon wear the new UAFS eSports jersey is Daniel Hernandez-Donato, a senior at Southside High School. He is also enrolled at PEAK Innovation Center as part of the Western Arkansas Technical Center. Playing at the collegiate level has not only improved his gaming skills, but has also opened the door to the possibility of scholarship opportunities.
“The bigger it gets, the more money that’s offered, which really pushes me to try my best,” Hernandez-Donato explained in between rounds of Valorant, the game he plays for Team Blue.
Team Blue captain, Rylynd Bullington praised Hernandez-Donato and the rest of his team for the hard work and dedication they have all put into the sport. Bullington says eSports have become “an avenue for our students to really find something they’re passionate about.” Their efforts have already paid off with some players ranking in the top 3,000 in the nation.
The UAFS eSports team streams all matches, scrimmages, and tournaments online through Twitch giving audiences a chance to see not only gaming at a high-level, but what they might not see is just how skilled these athletes really are.
“Every single game that we have requires a number of skills that are commonly associated with the most professional working people, but it’s applied in a way that is both fun and also fits into just playing the game,” says Holt. “In reality, for these players in that game, in the moments of the competitions, they have to perform what the equivalency is of on-the-spot hundreds of quadratic equation scenarios.”
Holt hopes the new jerseys, state-of-the-art gaming machines, and a global reach through social media, and level of competitive play helps attract and recruit new student-athletes to UAFS.
As the team and sport continues to grow, UAFS eSports is gearing up for their next major tournament competition which will be held on March 11. In the past, these tournaments have seen UAFS players facing off against players from the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma Christian.
For more information about the team or if you are interested in joining, follow them on social media platforms by searching @UAFSDLeSPORTS.
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