Ready to play? The University of South Florida has officially launched an electronic sports (esports) program, providing video gamers from all three USF campuses the opportunity to connect with one another and compete in both intramural and intercollegiate tournaments in a digital space.
Operating in an unofficial capacity over the past year, the Division of Student Success has formalized the program under the Recreation and Wellness Department, providing it with resources and future funding opportunities through Student Government. Antonio Gonzalez, assistant director of intramural and club sports, says this creates a number of exciting leadership opportunities, such as serving on the Recreation and Wellness Esports Council, providing esports a student voice and a platform to showcase their competitive talents.
“Esports is an opportunity for us to bridge and build a community of not only competitive gamers and casual gamers, but people who are just generally interested in video games,” said Bart Stucker, coordinator of recreation and wellness programs at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus.
With the University moving towards consolidation on July 1, esports has already united more than 200 gamers and administrators from all three campuses, creating one large, cohesive team. The nature of online gaming has given esports the ability to continue flourishing, even amid the coronavirus outbreak, allowing players to connect with one another and grow the sport remotely.
“The students really miss being on campus and having that sense of community,” said Kristofer Newsome, sports club coordinator on USF’s Tampa campus. “Esports provides the opportunity for us to still come together and continue doing what we love.”
USF will continue working with other universities’ esports programs to develop and host tournaments. Most recently, gamers from USF collaborated with Florida State University, University of Central Florida and University of Florida to host the Battle for Florida tournament, where teams faced off in the widely popular soccer game, FIFA 20. Gonzalez believes that as more universities develop Esports programs, tournaments will grow into larger, national events.
The program currently hosts competitions for a variety of game titles across several platforms including PlayStation, Xbox and PC, and broadcasts many of the team’s competitions live on its Twitch channel, a social media platform that allows audiences to watch games and interact with players in real time.
USF’s esports program plans to roll out its’ new website this month, which will serve as the central resource for all aspects of USF esports programming, including year-round intramural schedules, student leadership opportunities, information regarding USF’s competitive teams, and details on how to get involved. To learn more about USF esports, fill out the interest intake form by clicking here.
Remaining May, 2020 schedule:
Rocket League - Monday, May 18th at 8:00pm
MLB The Show - Monday, May 18th at 8:00pm
NBA 2K - Wednesday, May 20th at 8:00pm
NBA 2K - Monday, May 25th at 8:00pm
Madden - Monday, May 25th at 8:00pm
FIFA - Wednesday, May 27th at 8:00