Menomonie (WQOW) – By fall 2020, a new type of sports team will make its way into the UW-Stout college experience, but it doesn’t involve physically kicking a ball, running, or even standing. It involves winning through online gaming.
University officials have approved a plan to start an electronic sports team, otherwise known as esports. Teams from across the country login online, playing video games competitively.
UW-Stout officials say their esports team would be the second in the state and UW-Stout would be the first UW school to join NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports.
“By partnering with NACE, we’ll be joining a lot of other colleges across the entire United States, and we look forward to playing with them,” said senior Kayla Frohmader, studying Human Development and Family Studies.
Frohmader focused on the groundwork of the program, including UW-Stout’s involvement with NACE. Director of the School of Art and Design, David Beck, and Assistant Director of Student Life and Services, Andrew Cleveland are overseeing the esports initiative and how the program will benefit students in and outside of the classroom.
Cleveland said UW-Stout does have a student-run organization for esports. However, the program is student-funded. The new program is fully funded as a university team.
“Other UW schools do have esports on campus, though they are affiliated with or recognized student organizations (which doesn’t diminish their importance),” Cleveland said. “The distinction for UW-Stout is, we appear to be the first UW school to announce the launch of a college varsity team.”
“UW-Stout is so focused on cutting edge stuff in the technology world, and we have such a gaming culture,” said senior Hannah Bragelman, studying Game Design-Computer Science. “I really think 10 or 15 years down the road, every college is going to have an esports program. I think that’s just where it’s headed with how popular it is.”
Bragelman is on the university’s esports committee. She said the coed teams can set up matches easily with other colleges online, and spectators can tune into Twitch to watch the competitions live.