Scarlet & Brown Stories

Esports with Josh Lanza and Kyle Jicha

January 10, 2022 St. Lawrence University Season 1 Episode 8
Esports with Josh Lanza and Kyle Jicha
Scarlet & Brown Stories
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Scarlet & Brown Stories
Esports with Josh Lanza and Kyle Jicha
Jan 10, 2022 Season 1 Episode 8
St. Lawrence University

Esports is relatively new to campus life at St. Lawrence University, but this athletics team provides a unique community to students, allowing them to take their passion and channel it into strategy, teamwork, and competition.  Esports Coordinator Josh Lanza and Overwatch Coach Kyle Jicha share the team's origin and what it’s doing for students on campus now, and in the future.

Josh Lanza joined St. Lawrence University in July 2021 to serve as the University’s first Esports Coordinator and specifically coaches Super Smash Bros.  He and Kyle Jicha, Overwatch Coach and IT Systems Engineer, share the story of how students’ passion brought their vision for an esports team to life, and how it impacts the campus community.

Visit the esports team page:

Show Notes Transcript

Esports is relatively new to campus life at St. Lawrence University, but this athletics team provides a unique community to students, allowing them to take their passion and channel it into strategy, teamwork, and competition.  Esports Coordinator Josh Lanza and Overwatch Coach Kyle Jicha share the team's origin and what it’s doing for students on campus now, and in the future.

Josh Lanza joined St. Lawrence University in July 2021 to serve as the University’s first Esports Coordinator and specifically coaches Super Smash Bros.  He and Kyle Jicha, Overwatch Coach and IT Systems Engineer, share the story of how students’ passion brought their vision for an esports team to life, and how it impacts the campus community.

Visit the esports team page:

[Theme Music]

Amelia:  Hello everyone. And welcome back to the first episode of Scarlet and Brown stories in 2022. This is your co-host Amelia Jantzi, and I am delighted to be joined by a different co-host this time, please welcome Denny Morreale, class of 2007, who is the Associate Director of Annual Giving. Welcome Denny.

Dennis:  Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that, Amelia. I've been watching from backstage throughout the life of this podcast and just delighted to be making my first appearance. So I appreciate you having me on, and I'm super excited for our show today. We've got two very exciting guests to talk about a very exciting topic. So our topic of the day is Esports. And with us to talk about that are Kyle Jicha, who is systems engineer in IT, but also our Overwatch coach and importantly, he was involved from the onset of when an Esports team was just an idea, he was part of steering it through to fruition. And then we also have our new Esports coordinator, Josh Lanza to tell us how the season's going.

Amelia:  Well as someone who knows absolutely nothing about Esports or video gaming in general, I'm really looking forward to this interview.

Dennis:  Likewise, I've got a lot to learn. I think it's a super interesting topic. I know there'll be people like my own mom and dad listening, who will be utterly bewildered. So I think us having fresh perspective and sort of beginner understanding might be just what the topic calls for.

Amelia:  All right. Well, we'll jump right in.

[Music Plays]

Dennis:  Gentlemen. Thank you very much for joining us.

Josh:  Thank you for having us.

Kyle:  Thank you very much.

Dennis:  Oh, it's a pleasure. So to kick us off, very simple straightforward question here. Why Esports and why St. Lawrence?

Kyle:  It's a good question. I can sort of tell you a little bit about the journey of how we got to where we are. I had to in conversations heard that there was some consideration of Esports since it was a growing trend in academics. And I had some personal experience. I've been a competitive gamer for quite a long time. And so I sort of heard some scuttlebutt, not really much definitive going on and had a chance conversation with Eric Shinnick, our Executive Director of Finance in probably about 2008 team. And really it sounded like there was some interest by the administration in seeing this happen. And so we just decided to take the initiative to assemble our own committee to investigate the feasibility of starting a program.

Kyle:  And so we started looking for people to sort of help us with that committee. We had some really great advocates were on the committee, including Dr. Sarah Barber, who is the Dean of the first year program. And as well as Dr. Choong-Soo Lee, who is a professor in the CS math and statistics department. And each person who came to the committee had their own sort of angle and reason for wanting to see Esports, but mostly we came to it from one of three avenues.

Kyle:  One was a focus on retention, particularly Dr. Barber was seeing some trends amongst students who were having a hard time sort of staying on top of their studies and performing academically while balancing, I think their personal ambitions and their personal goals, as far as gaming goes. And after having some conversations with her, she was very much a convert in that after having seen gaming as a potential problem, she really came around to the idea of, well if we put some structure around this and these students have this passion, how can we guide them to stay here and be successful as a student at St. Lawrence and be successful in their professional life, by getting involved in a coach and having an organized structure around those things. And so she brought at focus. We also had interest in various academic and research integrations, potentially down the road to help with enrollment management. That was another thing that both Eric, myself and Bob Durocher had, in addition Florence, who all had an idea that we would be able to see an impact on our enrollment management long term.

Dennis:  That's so interesting. So I would have as a child of the eighties, I grew up with Nintendo and watched the movie, The Wizard, which is about competitive gaming, a very proto form. It makes sense to me just in that it seems cool, but it's interesting to hear that you had that much buy-in from the start. And honestly, I wouldn't have been able to predict that there were that many angles that people would've seen early on as ways that we could improve retention and some of these other things that we're always keeping an eye on as an administration. Did you run into any funny reactions as you were shopping the program around once you had the committee put together?

Kyle:  Sure. Yeah. I mean, there was a healthy amount of skepticism, but I want to say that the reactions while they were mixed in some areas, they were mostly very supportive. The longevity of anything that's new and growing this quickly, everyone wonders, "Is this going to be a flash in the pan? Is this going to be something where we invest in and then find that maybe it doesn't get as much use or it doesn't have the staying power." But really the numbers speak for themselves. We have a younger generation that is coming up, and this is technology. This is a form factor that they're used to from a very young age, as we did some of our internal analysis, something close to 80% of our internal student population identified as a gamer in some capacity, whether that was casual or not.

Kyle:  And so the interest is there from today's students and the backing and the size of the market for Esports as its own industry outside of academics, just in the professional space is so large that it's clear that this isn't something that's going away. Companies have invested billions of dollars in this. It's going to be around for a while. And so we did some analysis and we did some surveying of our student population. And we looked at other emerging trends and we sat down with senior staff and we made a pitch to try this out in some form or factor, really focusing at the club level, starting there because we didn't really have much.

Kyle:  We had a very small lab that was grant funded and we were fortunate enough that we had some great supporters and by way of Bob and Florence, and we got a generous investment from former president Bill Fox. He gave us some startup money to reboot that, refresh it and really take the internal teams that we had identified as our proto teams. We had done some internal tournaments and got these players together and really just sourced talent. And that was really how we started at the club level. Just let's find some small tournaments and compete there and see where the proof is in the pudding.

Amelia:  And I know that this is still a fairly new program, but have you seen any indication of impact on retention? Is this team looking like it's supporting those initial goals that Florence and Bob were interested in when you first brought this idea to them?

Kyle:  Yeah. So that's interesting. I'd like to follow back up with Dr. Barber and see what analysis we can do now that the program has been varsity status for a year now and see where we might be able to make some correlations there. I was somewhat surprised when we went into this. There was this idea that our student athletes for Esports were going to be students that weren't your traditional athlete. They were maybe more introverted and less involved in other areas on campus. And what I found, which may not speak well to the retention statistics, is that all the students who are strongly motivated to be a member of the Esports team were already involved in numerous other extracurriculars, including varsity sport. And so I haven't actually gone through and done any of that. I think that that is a review item for us, not only on our retention, but also this year out and years ahead, how we're doing on the enrollment management front.

Josh:  If I can just chime in here, this being my first semester on the ground here in my official capacity, talking to that and seeing what could be there it is, as Kyle said, there might be some early indicators overall to see a trend with a total of what three semesters might be a little too early to tell yet. But I can also say that this semester we just launched another game title on the varsity roster. I launched Super Smash Brothers on our varsity roster. So for those, the uninitiated, we have three titles on our varsity roster, Super Smash Brothers, League of Legends, and Overwatch. Overwatch being the one Kyle coaches and Eric Shinnick would be the third leg of our stool here. He coaches League of Legends. I coach Smash.

Josh:  And I have to say just from starting Smash, I pulled six students out of the woodwork that wouldn't have been involved with Esports. Like Kyle said, they all are involved in something else. They seem to be engaged in that respect as well. So I've got people who do the music ensemble. I had a student do the play this fall and a student he's the president of the greenhouse so he's our captain as well. A lot of involvement, I've seen that as well. So I will say though, it seems that the more we spread our wings and pull people from different angles of the college that seems to generate more buzz from the students that could help us in the long run. But overall, it's probably too early to tell the overall impact.

Dennis:  Still it's interesting. You mentioned some affinity crossovers that I wouldn't have necessarily been able to predict. When I think Esports, the first thing that jumps to mind isn't the greenhouse necessarily. I mean, it's-

Amelia:  Not the theater kids?

Dennis:  Yeah.

Josh:  Yeah.

Dennis:  Look I mean, it's really neat though. I'm not shocked by it, but it wouldn't have met my assumptions, so to speak. Are you seeing a broad spread in terms of hitting those different areas and in particular I'm interested, are you seeing a gender spread as well? I think that's another area it's sometimes thought of as a very male form of competition.

Josh:  Yeah. And to speak to that, Kyle can feel free to add what he feels he needs to add, but it's no deep dark secret that Esports is a male dominated sport. That doesn't mean that women can't participate. In fact, I've seen just my personal endeavors a rise of women gamers, and I'm proud to say I have a wonderful female athlete on my Smash team, Eliza, she's great, big improvements this semester. And as a program, I'm actively recruiting for any female gamers that want to attend as well. I believe the diversity for gaming is gaming's greatest strength, unlike any other traditional sport, they have some sort of physical capacity. With Esports, as long as you can hold a controller, you can play, everybody gets the fair shake here. That's what I want to bring when I'm trying to actively recruit for this institution, is anybody from any corner, any walk of life can try out here. That's a point of pride for us.

Amelia:  Yeah. I'm interested, you brought up this idea of diversity within gaming. And so I'm just sort of curious, how has this team changed the culture of athletics, of being able to have this diverse space? Just tell me a little bit about that and what the impact has been there?

Josh:  I think it's been overall a very positive impact of bringing people together for this common interest that we have. I didn't also mention our League of Legends team, our captain's a female gamer. Ninie has been the captain now for years since it's been in the varsity realm. So she started, as Eric told me, bare bones, basic knowledge, worked her way up all the way to the captain's spot. And it just goes to show she's taken a big leadership role. She's also our SAC representative over at athletics. She's taken on a lot of leadership roles with our Esports club. Working with her, I want to even develop that club out further for the next semester.

Josh:  This kind of thing where we see people from all these corners and walks of life having this common interest, like you said, Denny there's people that you might even expect to have this interest that have it. It's cool when you see all these different people from different areas of the campus that might not necessarily get together under other circumstances, getting together for this and actually putting their heart and soul into it. We had three very dedicated teams this semester, all of our teams posted winning records. They take this stuff seriously. And we had a good season. I'll let Kyle speak on the Overwatch side, but I was very impressed with what they did. Had a good season, wouldn't you say, Kyle?

Kyle:  Yeah, absolutely. To go back to your question about how Esports, the inclusion of Esports as a varsity Esport may have changed the culture of athletics. My lens is in having not been a part of athletics proper prior to this, I'll say that the reception was warm and I felt pretty well received. Though, I do think that it's been a process and will probably continue to be a process for some of the traditional athletics to really understand what is Esports. That title is somewhat abstract to some folks who I think that there's still some education to go on there and really unpacking all that goes into formal Esports and competition.

Kyle:  And the level of physical dexterity and endurance that is required for something that a traditional athlete may look across the hall and see someone sitting in a chair playing a game, and it doesn't look like it's anything that is particularly taxing or demanding, but the reality is when you're doing that for two to three hours back to back without a break, and it really requires to perform at a high level, phenomenal reaction time, and very, very well practiced and well honed, very small muscle memory to execute some of the maneuvers that they do. It's very real that they have to put in that amount of time and effort. There's concerns over repetitive stress injuries, just you would have with any other traditional sport. And I think getting there has been a bit of a process, but it's been a great journey to go on. And I think that it's enriched both sides.

Kyle:  They have helped us tremendously in terms of helping us to structure our offerings, our policies and guidelines. A lot of that stuff, we were coming from the club level where we didn't have that. And so it's been great to have a home that has this structure, that we can go to them and lean on them in those areas that we need them. I have a student that has a carpal tunnel type issue. We can go and use those trainers, work that out. Those kinds of fits that really make it an ideal fit in my mind. And every university has a different approach to what they do with their Esports. Not all of them make it a varsity sport. And it's more of a student engagement, student activity thing.

Josh:  To add to that, the student engagement side, varsity side of things. One of the reasons I got attracted to St. Lawrence in the first place was the fact that I knew when I was coming here, they treated it as a varsity sport. I think that is important. I understand there's many other colleges that do put it under student activities or a club sport or something like that. But when I'm talking to recruits, I advertise the fact that we are a varsity sport and all the things that come with that varsity status that we're treated just like the football team or the hockey, you name it. That's important and it's important to students as well, that we receive that kind of treatment. And I've appreciated the backing that I have had from the athletics side of things.

Amelia:  What do you think that that says about St. Lawrence, that they treat this team as a varsity sport?

Josh:  We take it seriously. We understand the benefits. It is a bit of an investment. I know Kyle said, there's a healthy bit of skepticism with it to start this program, as there should be. There's a little bit of a feel of a gamble when you start and investing in a full time position. But I believe in this and they clearly believe in this. And that means if they believe in this, we can sell this to recruits and say, "Hey, I'll actually have a place here. I'll be a valued member of the athletic community. People value my talent and my skills." Those are those things that Kyle mentioned that you have to do in order to be a successful competitive gamer. That can go underappreciated or misunderstood or something. That's not going to happen here. They realize that once they set foot on the team here.

Dennis:  So it's interesting from a recruitment standpoint, and I'm just so curious how those conversations have gone for you and what you're hearing, are perspective students finding it persuasive that we have this program?

Josh:  Yes. The ones that are interested in Esports, they do. And if there's a couple things I could tell you that they really find persuasive. Fact one, that we have a dedicated space for them to play at. An Esports lab here has been a work in progress since I've set foot here in July. It's come a long way since July. I don't believe it's completely done yet. It's still a work in progress, but it's a place where people come now, I have students in there as we speak who are gaming right now. So they do appreciate having the space. And the fact that Kyle and I, we went there this summer and we put those computers together with our own two hands. We didn't call Alienware up and say, "Hey, give me 15 machines." Kyle knows what needs to be in these computers, found the parts. We found the most bank for our buck, and we got them put together and people appreciate that time and dedication to it.

Josh:  They also appreciate the fact that we have dedicated coaches to each of our titles right now. So we've got Kyle for Overwatch, Eric for League and me for Smash. A lot of other schools, they have one person in my position who might have three, four, five titles on shoulders. And that's frankly, just too much for any one person to give the attention those deserve. So they want to know they're going to get some good attention from an individual perspective. And that's important to them as well. We have that here at St. Lawrence. And when I tell them those things, the recruits, their eyes light up when we're having that conversation. And they know that, "Oh, maybe I should look into St. Lawrence just a little bit more if they take it this seriously."

Dennis:  So that sort of leads me to think, as we think about prospective students evaluating St. Lawrence against other options, that those other options are presumably going to be other division rivals of ours or the teams that we're playing. What does the competitive landscape look like right now for Esports? Like does Esports have a 'Bama, for example?

Josh:  Yeah. I'll let Kyle talk about it. Because he just had his season as well. He knows a little bit about what the schools are out there. I don't know. We did play against 'Bama actually in League of Legends, I-

Dennis:  That was definitely a joke.

Josh:  We played against the crimson tide.

Dennis:  That's amazing.

Josh:  We've played against the crimson tide as an Esports team, but I'll Kyle go.

Kyle:  Yeah. And so I'll just say in terms of, is there a 'Bama of Esports? I think that this comes down to what is Esports? Esports is a collection of many different titles. And while there are some very big, heavy hitters out there that have a strong rosters for all of their titles there, there's a couple that are really big. In the leagues that we run in Bay State, Illinois, Wesleyan and Boise State are really big ones. We compete currently our biggest leagues that we belong to are National Association of Collegiate Esports referred to as NACE. And they are the biggest independent collegiate organization. And then we also compete in the East Coast Athletic Conference. They have an Esports only organization and tournament.

Kyle:  And both of those organizations, as well as others have grown almost exponentially. If you look at the numbers of where NACE was at in 2016, I think that they were just creeping into the double digits of member schools and they are now I want to say up close to 300 member organizations. Their website, I checked, I think it's dated, I have 175 on there and I think that those are last year's numbers. But I'd have to go back and look at it exactly, but a massive spreadsheet with many, many geographic regional conferences involved in going through regular season play. It's really blown up on the collegiate level, especially from 2018 on. That's when it really started to hit critical mass. So depending on where you're competing, you'll see different schools and some schools, Maryville, who's probably the biggest name, at least as far as Overwatch goes, they have won the Overwatch collegiate championship three years in a row.

Kyle:  And so those are sort of your big mainstays there, but it's very different from traditional athletics where you have these strict divisions and your size of your institution determines where you play. It's very much the wild West and the two that are doing their best to corral that and put some order and organization to the chaos right now are NACE and ECAC. Those are the prevailing ones and that's where we're focusing the majority of our time and energy. But in so many ways, it has so many things that are in common with traditional athletics and then other things that are different. There's a scholarship cash prize associated with ECAC and NACE. So if you win, you can split that cash prize, that's cash scholar ship amongst your roster. And that goes down to even small little tournaments that anyone, any club team can put a team together and go out there and play. We're not governed by NCAA, which is-

Dennis:  Oh okay, I was just about to ask.

Amelia:  Interesting.

Dennis:  Yeah.

Kyle:  Yep. There's no governing body really that sets those rules apart from when you get into the league to compete. So for us, it's NACE and ECAC. That said, we still hold ourselves particularly since becoming a varsity sport here at St. Lawrence we're held to the same standards of conduct and everything that we would normally expect of our NCAA athletes. So when it comes to compliance and all of those things, we adhere to those same standards with the obvious difference being what you can and can't do around recruiting and scholarships and things like that.

Dennis:  So as we look long term at our competitive positioning, what are the feathers in our cap right now? What do we have going for us? And then what are some of the obstacles we might have as a institution looking to compete over the long haul?

Josh:  Yeah. So I can start by saying this particular season, the fall season, all three of our game titles posted winning records for the regular season.

Dennis:  That's great. Congratulations.

Josh:  Thank you. And in Smash's inaugural season, we made it to round three of the ECAC playoffs. We even kept it close. We did not hand them the game. So it was best two out of three, we lost in three. So we did take a game from them. And coach Kyle had a Overwatch team make it to round two of the ECAC playoffs. We had a very close loss against SUNY Canton, our rivals down the road. So it was a tough team. Their varsity team is very good. And the fact that we took them to literally, as long as we could possibly take them for a game of Overwatch is to be commended for that.

Josh:  So I believe the foundations of winning teams are here at St. Lawrence, we have that. There is definitely room for improvement, obviously, and we're taking that very seriously going into the spring as to how to do that. I believe it comes a little bit from recruiting high level players, as much as we can attract them to St. Lawrence. But it also, I think, comes from the grassroots as well, farming up what we have here and doing our best with baking solid teams. I'll let Kyle speak for himself, but I can tell you that his team in particular, this year, there was some turnover. He had to mold the group. Some people didn't even know each other at the beginning of the semester, right Kyle?

Kyle:  Yeah, for me, the biggest feather in our cap and what I find to be the most moving part about all of this, this whole journey for me, has just been how much initiative and drive and effort the students have put into this from day one.

Josh:  Absolutely.

Kyle:  And by day one, I mean, we held in very early. This was January, may have even been December of 2019 or January of 2020, but we held a tournament to gauge interest in these titles and see if we had players and those teams basically formed that night, whether they knew it or not. There was different additions and people have come and gone since then. But the drive that they had to see this be not just a club sport, but to strive to really fully represent the university. That passion, it fueled me and it fueled the program.

Kyle:  And it was when we made the ask, the suggestion to, "Hey can we go?" That was our big thing, we wanted to compete in NACE. And NACE says, "You need to be officially recognized by your university. You can't just be a club team. You need to be officially recognized." And so we drafted a letter to senior staff, all of us, the whole team, and we all put our names on it and we made our best pitch. And all we were looking for was just, "Can we get the official?" We weren't expecting varsity status or anything like that, but we have a lot of good things going for us. We did our due diligence when it came to doing our research. And I think the experience St. Lawrence task force had some really good information in terms of net annual revenue generation for us projected.

Kyle:  So all of that sort of helped us make that sell and get there, but this was a grassroots effort. And the students have just time and time again, blown me away with how hard they're willing to work and I mean work to get this to where it's been. It's been a community led effort, and it's just been such a positive experience. I can't say enough about it. We can only go up from here. We've just begun our recruitment efforts in earnest. And so all of the players that we've had to date have all been, with the exception of one recruit that we did get fall of last year specifically for Overwatch, they've been a walk on team. And to be able to make it into ECAC playoffs, three semesters running, make it as far as the elite eight once with walk on players.

Kyle:  And even looking at this season where we went up against SUNY Canton's varsity team is in relative to the Esports world, they're much more mature than we are, and they've spent more time and effort recruiting and building that. And we went for a six game series with them. We went toe to toe and it could've been anyone's match at any point in time. I swell with pride just thinking about it.

Dennis:  That's fantastic. So I got to know, does Clarkson have a team yet?

Kyle:  They compete in some club type stuff. I know that they have some Smash players, but I have not run into them in the Overwatch competitive scene in any of our venues.

Dennis:  I love that we're first in, as far as the two of us then, and I think we got to just bulk up as long as we can, before they get here.

Amelia:  We'll be ready. I just, I should have asked this earlier in our conversation, but as someone who's not particularly familiar with competitive gaming, like what does coaching Esports mean? What does that look like? What does a standard training session look like?

Kyle:  That's a great question. And I think that, to go back to a little bit of what Josh said, it can probably vary depending on the institution what the roles and responsibilities from a coach are. So each of these titles are very dynamic and very... Rather than something like basketball, which has the NCAA governs the rules that are used there. So these games are completely owned and controlled by private companies that everything from how the game plays out, they're regularly patched and changed. The changes that are made on the game level can be as impactful as say raising or lowering the basketball hoop by three feet from one week to the next.

Kyle:  And so what does that mean for coaching? It means that you need to have a good understanding of the macro of the game, whatever the title might be, for me it's Overwatch so I need to understand enough about how the game is played, the map type and everything else to know what the winning condition is at any moment. And so you're basically playing chess in a first person shooter format, so you need to be thinking ahead about where you're positioning, about what your next moves are going to be, how to make most usage out of, this is going to be a jargon term, but make the most usage out of your ultimates. Basically the game, you play your character, your hero, in their assigned role. And depending on how well you do, you form up these ultimates that can turn the tide of battle. And so you want to work with your team to coordinate that.

Kyle:  But as far as how does coaching look? It usually means sitting down with your team as they're going through either ranked competitive play and recording their video, looking at their positioning, their ultimate usage, their ability usage, how frequently they're doing things and giving them feedback based on that on a micro level for that person, that player, their job that they have to do, just like you would give feedback to a quarterback.

Kyle:  And then there's high level game sense and strategy where we know that this opponent favors these maps, they favor these heroes when they play and so how do we come up with a strategy that minimizes their strengths as much as possible and highlights our strengths as much as possible. And that's really what goes in for a match preparation, but our practices are largely what you call scrimmage. We do a lot of practice games against other institutions and use that as an opportunity to run different compositions, try different strategies. We record all of those. We give feedback after the fact on that and just unpack that much like a football team would sit and review tape.

Amelia:  I have to say, I'm really, I'm quite struck by the amount of dedication and passion that it sounds like your teams and your students have shown in this process. And I think that it's really inspiring to see how they've taken an ownership for creating this space as part of the St. Lawrence culture for this kind of competition and for those students that find so much passion in that competition as well.

Josh:  It's true. Amelia, the dedication that our Esports students have is unbelievable. I'll tell you from my first experience coaching first time this semester with this group, when we did our first VOD review, like Kyle mentioned, all three of us, we all look at our film and I felt like I was facilitating the most interesting class in the whole campus. The eyes were just glued to the screen, taking notes. There was just so much interest and engagement movement on a level I've never seen before. When it comes to wanting to improve their game play people actually valued what I had to say, constructive criticism I could provide. It's a feeling unlike anything else and I have to imagine a traditional sports coach probably looks at it in a similar light.

Kyle:  Yeah. And I think Josh, that's a great word that you used there, because I really that's really how I see myself. Depending on the institution, the coach for a particular game, they may or may not have a lot of vertical game sense. They may or may not have former professional or semi-pro experience or high level game play. They may have been highly ranked in Overwatch or League of Legends or whatever, they may be coaching. For me, I'm not a grand master Overwatch player. I did have the supreme privilege of having one of our first students that was on our inaugural team, who was a GM support player. And our current coach who still is a very highly ranked, very knowledgeable, has deep, vertical game knowledge. And it's my job as a coach to empower them to teach the rest of the team because for me and my responsibilities and the roles that I have, I can't stay super vertical on all of those things. So those micro gameplay things, I farm a lot of that out to our captains and I work with them.

Kyle:  I'm there for macro gameplay. I'm there to set the tone to work on communication and collaboration, to help them keep their schedules and things in place and keep their wide angle lens on and really let them differ to their own in-house expertise and help them find those external resources. If they feel like they're deficient in a particular area or if we notice that there's something that we need to develop on a micro level, that we don't have that experience. We've done VOD reviews with external coaches and things like that to fill those gap.

Amelia:  So we're at the end of a semester now so what's going on at the teams as we wrap up this conversation? What's going to be going on for your titles and your teams in this next semester?

Josh:  What's happening for Overwatch, Kyle?

Kyle:  Well, I think Overwatch, both myself and the team are looking forward to a little bit of a well-deserved break. We've been going for about three semesters strong now competing. And I, myself am going to take time this next semester between pretty much now and the spring to focus on recruitment, focus on reaching out to prospects. Team will switch to a much more relaxed or to captain practice schedule where they will just do some informal practices to keep the rust from accumulating on the gears. And then we'll be back at it in the fall again. They may opt to enter some smaller tournaments and compete there. And if we do, we would probably, where possible, try and stream those on our Twitch account as well. But yeah, we're looking forward to a little bit of a break and really looking to sure up the team with some new recruits and get back at it, start our practice late summer and be ready to hit the ground running in the fall. And hopefully just keep moving forward and moving upward in the rankings.

Josh:  On the flip side, League of Legends is going to be ramping up in the spring. So if you're looking for your Esports fix on our Twitch stream, you can check out League of Legends, we will of course be streaming all the games there on a weekly basis. And I'm continuing with the Smash team as well this spring. We're looking for some fresh faces to join Smash. I'm going to be heating it up as well for the spring there.

Kyle:  So keep your eyes posted on has there's a section there for Esports that has all of our upcoming matches. It also has links to our Twitch account, our Twitch channel, where we stream all of our matches. And there may be some links to like an Instagram. We're working on improving our social media profile to keep people engaged so stay tuned for more on that to be able to follow that more dynamically.

Amelia:  Well, thank you both so much and sharing with us this really dynamic and exciting story that you have. And I think that just really wonderfully shows the amount of passion and dedication that St. Lawrence students and Lawrence share.

Kyle:  Thank you for having us.

Josh:  It was great to be here. Thank you.

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Amelia:  Well, there you have it everyone. As again, like I said, someone who knows nothing about the world of video gaming, I can now say that I know significantly more than I ever expected to. What did you think of this interview, Denny?

Dennis:  I'm just sort of blown away by the whole thing. You know, it's a brave new world we're in here. But what's really cool is just seeing that we have some really great people steering the ship, and I know that this is going to mean a ton to a lot of students to get to participate in competitive thing like this who might not have otherwise had that experience at St. Lawrence. And so I'm just really excited to see how they do.

Amelia:  Yeah, I definitely was struck with the involvement that students had from such an early stage and that it was this passion of both the coaches and our students that wanted to see this come to life, that saw that it had something to offer our campus and our community and that our community decided to invest in it. And I think that that just says a lot about how we think about all Laurentians and finding a place on campus for all Laurentians here. I thought it was super fascinating myself. Well, we will see you all next time on Scarlet & Brown Stories. Thanks everybody.

Dennis:  Thank you.

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Beth Dixon:  Scarlet and Brown Stories is edited and produced by Amanda Brewer, Megan Fry Dozier, Dennis Morreale, Beth Dixon, and Amelia Jantzi.

Amelia:  Our music was written by Christopher Watts inspired by Eugene Wright, class of 49.

Beth Dixon:  Subscribe to Scarlet and Brown Stories on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

Amelia:  If you have a story you'd like to submit to us, you can email us at

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