Northland Community and Technical College to launch esports team in August – Grand Forks Herald

EAST GRAND FORKS – Northland Community & Technical College is set to become one of the few technical colleges in the state to offer an esports program.

The Northland Pioneers will jump into the esports arena in August, joining at least two other technical colleges in the state. Through teams at each of its campuses, Northland students will compete as members of the National Junior College Athletic Association esports. The program facilitates students’ experiencing team dynamics, school representation and campus life.

“As we continuously seek out creative opportunities to enhance the student experience here at Northland, we felt bringing something such as gaming would be a great and inclusive addition to Pioneers Athletics,” said Northland President Sandy Kiddoo. “Gaming brings so much more than fun for our students, it is also an ingenious way to sharpen their soft skills such as being a team player, which is a vital workforce skill.”

esports — electronic sports — is competitive video gaming. Members from different leagues or teams face off in popular video games such as Rocket League, Super Smash Brothers, Rainbow 6 Siege, Overwatch, and Madden NFL. According to a Northland release, millions of fans worldwide watch these teams compete via live events or tune in on TV or online.

The NJCAAE created its esports association in 2019, as the community of competitive gaming grew in popularity. The program provides two-year colleges with governance, competition, and official national championships. At present, the NJCAAE has more than 125 participating colleges with over 2500 student gamers. In Minnesota, Northland appears to be the third technical college to offer the program, after colleges in Alexandria and Rochester.

Four-year universities such as the University of Minnesota already offer an esports program, and UND has had once since March 2020.

Lisa Bottem, Northland’s interim dean of student affairs and who oversees Pioneer athletics, said she was excited about launching an esports program, and that she expects it to grow.

“Gaming has become extremely popular across the world and will continue to grow collegiately as this competitive sport attracts participants from diverse age groups and backgrounds,” Bottom said. “We already have students competing in these popular games, and now they can play as Northland Pioneers to compete against students here in Minnesota and across the country.”

According to the release, Tom Henderson, Northland’s esports team coach and information technology specialist, said efforts to recruit members will soon get underway.

To be eligible for the esports team, Northland students must be enrolled full-time in a degree program, and must maintain a grade point average of 2.0.

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