By Ryan Vermette
A new club has arrived on Alden Street.
Students who share a common interest in gaming can now join the Springfield College Esports club to play and connect with other gamers across campus.
A club that originally started as an idea for a class project, has now turned into one of the biggest clubs on campus in a short period of time.
“Originally over the summer, Luke Salls and I thought about creating an Esports club specifically to provide opportunity to people on campus who are enthusiastic about Esports and online competition,” said graduate student and founding member of the club, Kadin DeRuijter.
DeRuijter, a health promotions student, set out to expand the club and start a health promotion program once he realized how much interest the club would draw from the college population.
“Upon realizing that the Esports community intrigues most individuals to a certain degree, Luke and I agreed we should expand the club to as large of a platform as possible. When none of the Health Promotions students (Me, Luke, and Steve Cone) could find internships, we decided along with our advisor to create and implement a health promotion program into our very own club,” said DeRuijter.
In just one month, the club has expanded to 78 members and includes a wide variety of games, as well as players with varying skill sets. As the club continues to expand, so is the selection of games that can be played.
If a student has an interest in a certain video game, the club will notify other members to see if they are interested and will create a team or group specific to that video game. Games currently available to the club range from “League of Legends” to “Rocket League.”
The Esports Team became official on Sept. 25 and are now considered a part of the athletic community at Springfield College.
The team has access to Athletic Training, as well as many of the privileges that other athletic teams receive on campus. For those that want to play competitively, members can choose a game to compete in with other members of the club and would take part in intercollegiate play.
With the club still developing, the team hopes to participate in competitive seasons starting next semester and will compete in a number of practice matches against other collegiate Esports programs this fall and winter.
While many of the club’s members are involved in competitive gaming, the club welcomes all players and has multiple casual gaming groups set up for those that want to simply play for fun with other members.
“There is zero pressure, that’s one of the things that we’ve been advertising to people who join, there’s zero pressure to play competitively,” said club member James Harron, who plays on the clubs “Valorant” team. The club has a number of games set up for recreational play, such as “Minecraft” and “Among Us.”
While providing a hub for Springfield College gamers to play their favorite games, the club also seeks to focus and bring light to mental health and the stigma associated around Esports and video gamers.
“We believe that Esports currently is an unregulated community and people associate ‘gamers’ with a negative stereotype. Someone cooped up in the basement, bent over playing for hours on end and is physically un-athletic. Our goal is to create a health program that could challenge this stereotype and promote healthy behavior,” said DeRuijter.
The club is also a great way for students to get connected with each other and meet people that they would not have otherwise, especially during the pandemic, where it’s hard to get together with people in person.
“It’s a safe way to stay connected,” said graduate student Tyler Hansen, who is also a member of the Track and Field team at Springfield.
DeRuijter and other members of the club know the importance of making connections virtually during these times. “The conventional college lifestyle has been put on hold for many individuals. Building the Esports club gave students another outlet to foster new relationships and develop new connections,” said DeRuijter.
Many of the members, like James Harron, are meeting new people and making friends through online gaming. “This is super interesting because I get to play with new people, I’ve made friends with people who are freshman and sophomores, and I would have never talked to them otherwise, being a senior living off campus,” said Harron.
Students who are interested and want to join the club can do so by joining the Springfield College Esports Discord server.
Discord is an app designed for large groups of gamers to voice chat and message each other while playing video games and can be used on PC and other mobile devices.
The link to the teams Esports discord server can be found on their Instagram Page @springfieldcollegeesports
The club will also be streaming their competitive matches on the teams Twitch account at twitchtv/springfieldcollegeesports. For more information, students can message the teams Instagram account or go to the FAQ page located in the clubs’ discord server.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Esports Instagram