Averett University Launches New Esports Competitive Gaming Team

Posted on October 30th, 2017 by Cassie Jones

Averett University today announced it is joining the national ranks of colleges and universities competing in the explosive collegiate esports arena. As the only four-year university in the Commonwealth of Virginia to add a varsity competitive gaming program, Averett’s esports team has already entered competition with Division l and ll schools across the country.

Esports is a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, and is becoming increasingly popular on college campuses. With more than 50 players signed up within weeks of the program’s inception, the University has already outgrown the dedicated space on its Main Campus in Danville, Va., and is devising plans for growth.

“We are thrilled to be leaders in the state, and excited to meet our students where they are with such innovation and creativity,” said Averett University President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “But what I find most remarkable is the sport’s unique ability to reach such a diverse group of students who may not otherwise interface in this kind of capacity. The overwhelming response and engagement from our students reaffirms why this program was the right choice for Averett to pursue.”

Averett currently has 10 teams, and the number of players per team varies depending on the game. Teams are overseen by coaches and advisors, and are comprised of males and females, student-athletes and those who do not compete on other athletic teams, and all class levels from freshmen to seniors. Full-time, traditional, undergraduate students are eligible to try out, and must maintain a certain GPA, attend practices and keep up with study hours in order to remain on the team.

“I could not be more proud of our team members who worked so vigorously to get this program off of the ground,” said Kevin Lipscomb, chief information officer at Averett. “We are reaching a new demographic of students with this program who are not always engaged through other sporting events, and they’ve found a new sense of belonging.”

Averett is a member of two conferences, including the only varsity competitive gaming league, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). NACE currently enlists about 45 colleges, including several Division l and Division ll schools, many of which are located throughout the Midwest. The university also competes within the Collegiate Starleague, or CSL, a junior varsity conference where Averett competes with schools like Clemson University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University.

“The rate at which the Averett University esports initiative has come together is incredible. The time between Averett’s administration catching the vision of esports to Averett fielding whole esports teams has been awe inspiring,” said Michael Brooks, executive director of NACE. “Esports is becoming wildly popular at universities across the country, and schools like Averett are trailblazers in this phenomenon that is steadily growing.”

Averett kicked off its first competition on October 14 against West Virginia University, playing Counter Strike – Global Offensive. The team has already secured a win in its first few weeks of play.

“This is just the beginning for us,” said Lipscomb. “These students are pumped, and we feel poised to compete and hopefully make a splash.”