October 24, 2020

While some intercollegiate sports teams have put their games on hold this fall, University of Central Missouri Esports is going strong with team members that include John Carr, junior from Lees Summit, Missouri, who is majoring in Cybersecurity.

John Carr, who is member of the Esports Smash Brothers team was one of 38 UCM students who participated in the Esports signing ceremony in September. He is receiving a $500 scholarship to put toward his education while participating in UCM Esports.

UCM Esports was launched in the fall 2019 under the leadership of Head Coach Steven Shattuck, assistant professor of mathematics, and is open to all UCM majors. Shattuck established the program as an outlet for students who have a competitive passion for video games, and enjoy team play. Interest in these competitive games has grown significantly on college campuses nationwide, with schools joining the National Associate of Collegiate Esports, which is headquartered in Kansas City.

UCM began its inaugural year with three teams, Overwatch, League of Legends, and Rocket League, which all take part in competitive tournaments. As interest continues to grow, Shattuck added NBA 2k, Rainbow Six, Super Smash Brothers, and Valorant to the list of team offerings. Some tournament play has already taken place. Teams like Overwatch scrimmage weekly against other universities to prepare for the Overwatch Collegiate Championship, which is the largest collegiate tournament of its kind in the United States.

Individuals who participate in UCM Esports adhere to standards similar as students who take part in varsity athletics programs. They must meet criteria that include being enrolled in at least 12 semester hours throughout the academic year; completing at least 24 hours toward a degree each academic year; successfully achieving a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0; and attending classes regularly, completing homework on time, and communicating with professors about game days.

The signing ceremony gave students and opportunity to formally sign UCM Esports Player Agreements, which outline expectations of team members. Students who participate learn about self-discipline, collaboration and team building, and also serve as ambassadors for UCM through their participation.