HCC Joins the NECC Esports League

Kylie Potter, Staff Writer

Howard Community College has accepted an invitation from the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) to join their online Esports league in the Fall 2020 semester. Esports is a competitive form of online video-gaming that is carried out by players on opposing teams. 

HCC has become the first Maryland Community College to participate in Esports. In the fall, student-athletes will be able to compete against one another in games such as Overwatch and League of Legends. The program will be adding Rocket League in the spring. 

Although Esports at HCC will be held remotely in the fall due to COVID-19, Athletic and Facility Operations Manager Mark Winkel stated that, “There is a plan in place for an Esports arena to be built which will allow for on-campus practice and competitions.” 

Student-athletes interested in joining HCC’s Esports league can look forward to competing against big Maryland universities that are also members of the NECC Esports league, such as Hood College, Stevenson University and Mount St. Mary’s.

According to Winkel, over 40 students have expressed interest in joining HCC’s Esports league so far. 

Other community colleges have noticed HCC’s involvement in Esports, and have begun reaching out as well. “It is well known in the athletics community that the Esports industry is booming right now… since our official announcement went public, I have had several community colleges reach out to me to get more information as they have interest in adding Esports as well,” Winkel said, adding that he thinks there will be a lot more community college involvement in Esports in the next few years. 

As quoted by the Baltimore Sun, HCC’s director of athletics Erin Foley stated, “It’s bringing another side of competition to the collegiate environment. It opens up a broader opportunity for students who love video games to transfer that to their academics and their career.”

Stevenson University built its Esports arena in 2018, and they host practice sessions three times a week, treating Esports just like any other sport. This could be something that HCC can look forward to in the future, especially since there are plans to build an arena at HCC.

According to Stevenson University’s website, “[Esports] events are held in arenas around the world, oftentimes drawing more viewers than the NBA, NHL, and MLB championship games. Top professional players can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in endorsements and prize earnings.” Esports has become an immensely profitable industry, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

Mount St. Mary’s College is also introducing Esports in the Fall, and they are searching for ways to incorporate it into their curriculum, possibly developing a minor program for it. This is another idea that HCC could possibly implement with Esports in the future.

One of the main things that set Esports apart from regular academic sports is that players can compete against any team across the nation or across the world without having to travel. No team will have the “home advantage,” as is sometimes seen in other sports. 

With over 40 students already expressing interest in HCC’s Esports team, there are sure to be many more applicants by the Fall semester.

Any student who is interested in joining HCC’s Esports league can fill out a form at www.howardccdragons.com