NCU Esports Update
The esports program at North Central is gearing up for its debut season next fall. Spots on both varsity and club level teams are still available with official tryouts set to take place in mid-late August. Athletic Director Mike Knipe and co-director Jeremy Becker did not respond for comment on the number of students signed up for the program.
On March 25, NCU released a promotional video for the esports program on social media. The video showed a gaming setup featuring players wearing team jerseys with NCU colors. In April, Knipe and President Scott Hagan flew down to North Carolina to meet with Elevation Youth’s esports team and director, Jon Rush. Rush wrote on Twitter about the meeting: “Fantastic trip planning wild things.”
Knipe has also been visiting local Twin Cities high schools with esports programs to scout for recruitments and spread the word about scholarships for varsity athletes. Apple Valley and Minnetonka high schools have welcomed Knipe to talk to their students.
For Illinois high school senior Phillip Graham, the combination of esports and financial aid were a major reason he decided to commit to North Central for the upcoming school year. Graham met with Knipe over NCU Days, and Knipe offered him a renewable $2,000 scholarship to play Super Smash Bros Ultimate at the club level. According to Graham, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is the club level game NCU is taking most seriously, thus the reason for the scholarship.
Freshmen students of both club and varsity teams will be required to study in the library for at least four hours a week. This rule applies to all incoming freshmen, transfers and students below a GPA of 3.0 across all sports at NCU. Required esports practice time will range between five to six hours a week in the “arena” for club level athletes.
Graham said Knipe was aiming for eight or more players for each game. When asked what he was looking forward to most in the fall, Graham expressed his gratitude for the opportunity NCU gave him: “I’m just excited that I’m going to get to play a game I already enjoy playing and get financial aid for it.”
For up to date information on the esports program at North Central and upcoming gaming tournaments, follow the NCU E-Sports Twitter page.