How to be Recruited by a Collegiate Esports Team

Don't miss this conversation about recruitment with three top collegiate esports directors. 
[00:00:00.250] - Claire LaBeaux

Welcome, everyone, to the NASEF and NACE Facebook Live and also streaming on Twitch and YouTube and every other platform that we can think of because why not? I'm Claire LaBeaux with NASEF in North America Scholastic Esports Federation and super excited to have this panel with us today, all from NACE and all collegiate esports directors here to help high schoolers figure out the world. Yeah, no pressure, but that's what I'm setting out. Our objective for the next half hour is to help high schoolers figure out everything that they need to know. We'll probably narrow that a little bit. Let's see. Let's start with some intros. Grant, how about you? You want to introduce yourself?

[00:00:50.260] - Grant Deppen

So I'm Grant Deppen. I am the assistant director of instrumental sports and esports here at Old Dominion University. We are located in Norfolk, Virginia, which is about 20 miles from the Atlantic Coast in Virginia Beach. And I've been with the University for a little over seven years. And I was one of the people that started the program and really got it off the ground and built the Monarch Esports Arena that I'm in right now.

[00:01:11.730] - Claire LaBeaux

Awesome. So you've been there seven years. Have you had an esports program for seven years?

[00:01:16.050] - Grant Deppen

No, we have not. So the program started initial phases in the spring of 2019 and went through that whole process of creating a program. And we really launched and joined NACE in competition starting in fall of 2020. And we've been doing that for the last year and a half or so.

[00:01:33.780] - Claire LaBeaux

Okay. Awesome. I was thinking if you'd been around for seven years. Wow.

[00:01:37.140] - Grant Deppen

No, I don't know if anybody's been in College Esports for seven years.

[00:01:39.020] - Claire LaBeaux

I don't think anybody has. That's awesome. Let's see. Henry, how about you?

[00:01:44.610] - Henry Johnston

Yeah. So my name is Henry Johnston. I am the director of esports at Clark University. We are located in Dubuque, Iowa, which is just about 2 hours away from Chicago, right on the border, basically in Illinois, Iowa. I just started here back in June, July, when I graduated in May. I was a student at Butler University for a long time. I was also one of the founding members of our esports club there, became a student leader, really got a great experience at college through competition and leadership and definitely very happy to be as a director competing through NACE and many of the different leagues here.

[00:02:19.730] - Claire LaBeaux

Awesome. Good to have you and Kaitlyn.

[00:02:22.340] - Kaitlyn Roose

Yeah. Hi. My name is Kaitlyn or Katie Roose. I'm the current head coach and director of esports at Michigan Technological University. We're located in Houghton, Michigan. I don't know if this is going to reflect well or if the camera is going to do something weird with it, but if this is Michigan, for those of you that don't know, Michigan has a lower and an upper Peninsula and obviously sometimes in the Upper Peninsula we get forgotten about. But we have an awesome Esports program and awesome University. We're in Houghton, which is like right up here. I think we're like 4 hours from Madison. Maybe we're just a flight away from Detroit and Chicago. Canada is our nearest neighbor.

[00:03:02.480] - Claire LaBeaux

Probably the balmy sunny weather right now.

[00:03:06.030] - Kaitlyn Roose

Yeah, so much snow, but we make the best of it. We're a Stem school. Those are our primary and largest programs at Michigan Tech. Our Esports program has been around since I believe 2020 was technically our first year. I got hired in 2019 of the fall 2019. I was a grad student. Currently, I guess technically still a grad student, but I have my PhD from the University as well. So happy to be here and talk about recruitment with these awesome coaches and administrators.

[00:03:39.530] - Claire LaBeaux

Awesome. Thank you. You both have said something that makes me want to ask questions that are not on our plan, but I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway because I like to roll with it. So, Henry, you mentioned that you led a club at your school, and this is something interesting that has turned up in doing some of these Facebook lives is the different environments that are available to kids in colleges. So I'm just interested. Do you have a club at your school now? Do you have something like JV and varsity or how does that work for the teams that you have?

[00:04:09.540] - Henry Johnston

Yeah. So we are basically strictly varsity. We can have multiple teams if you want to call it JV, varsity, kind of ATP team. But when I walked in, we basically didn't have a program, basically because COVID kind of didn't allow us to function. We've been around for two or three years, lower capacity. But basically this is our first year kind of building it in the varsity structure like any of our other sports, like football or basketball. But there's definitely still a lot of components of a club, as in allowing students to get that kind of leadership and experience that they need to maybe achieve their goals once they graduate. But definitely also the structure of we give scholarships, we make sure our students are dedicated to practice and competition. But all that comes along with that.

[00:04:53.930] - Claire LaBeaux

Awesome. That's cool. Thank you. You know, something else I didn't ask you all is what titles do you play at your school?

[00:05:02.870] - Grant Deppen

So I'll go first. We actually have eleven different titles that we are supporting right now. And forgive me, hopefully none of my players see this if I forget their games. But we have Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Counterstrike, FIFA, Fortnite, Madden, League of Legends, Overwatch, Valorant, Super Smash Bros, Rainbow Six. I think I got them all. And so those are the eleven that we offer at this point. And we're excited about that. And part of that is the number of students that we have here at ODU. We have 24,000 undergraduate students, and so our 24,000 students, 19,000 undergraduate students. And so with a large student population like that, we have a lot of interest and a lot of high quality players. And so that was part of the choice there was that we can support it and we can manage it. So why not go full force into that?

[00:05:50.500] - Claire LaBeaux

Right. Awesome. Kaitlyn, I saw you raising your eyebrows when he was counting out all those titles on.

[00:05:57.870] - Kaitlyn Roose

Well, we have six. We have the big one. So Rocket League, Overwatch Counterstrike, National Champs, NACE National Champs. First one's, just saying. League of Legends. They said Rainbow Six, Siege, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I think that was six. Okay. I believe so.

[00:06:18.340] - Claire LaBeaux

Okay, awesome.

[00:06:19.020] - Kaitlyn Roose

And then we might dabble in a Valorant once the League is a little bit more established and possibly Apex, we have some separate interests there. Cool.

[00:06:30.550] - Claire LaBeaux

Henry, how about you?

[00:06:31.650] - Henry Johnston

What's going on for us? We've got seven different titles. We've got Apex, Call of Duty, Rocket League, FIFA, NBA 2K, Madden, Fortnite, and Hearthstone. And then hopefully for next fall, we will look to add Valorant and Rainbow Six.

[00:06:46.630] - Claire LaBeaux

Okay, awesome. Let's go ahead and talk about recruiting and finding a College and all those great things. So let's just start with it's really basic it's not necessarily related to Esports, but if I'm a high school student and I'm trying to figure out what College to go to, what do you recommend they look at as far as fit.

[00:07:07.390] - Grant Deppen

So for me, I always think that's an interesting question because you want to look for something that's going to support you academically, but that isn't always necessary and is going to be the best fit institutionally. So that depends on the size of the University. If you've come from a smaller high school and you want to branch out and go to a huge school, you have to find that and you have to really be prepared for a little bit of a shocking situation if you're going to go into that. But Conversely, if you want to go to a smaller school, you want to have a more intimate academic experience. You can do that too. And I think that's really where you want to start, as the size of the school and the academic programs that fit you as it pertains to your career choice in your career path. I think that's always the best way to look at it. Everybody that wants to come into collegiate Esports has an idea of what they want to get out of it, and maybe that is moving into the same professional or professional ranks, and that's a great goal to have, and that's a completely awesome goal or moving into a position within professional Esports outside of the gameplay.

[00:08:11.220] - Grant Deppen

But there's always a possibility that's not the best fit for you, or maybe you fall out of love with it or something like that. So going to a place where you have options and flexibility to get a degree, succeed, and really do the things that you want to do with your life. That's the best fit for you. And that could be a lot of different things, but you really have to dial it in where you feel comfortable and where you think you'll be successful.

[00:08:33.110] - Henry Johnston

And I think jumping off of that too, I think outside of the size, where is it located? Are you going in state? Out of state? How far are you willing to travel? If you're from California, do you want to go to maybe the Midwest and colder States or Info state? Do you want to go somewhere warm, really outside of that, what other kind of maybe smaller things do you want? Are you looking for maybe a very community focused campus? Are you looking for something very specific with housing or with maybe different facilities for whether it be esports, whether it be working out or just maybe general Student Union? Are you maybe looking for something that has more student clubs and organizations that you can get involved with? Do you want more of a structured program? Do you want more of a club program? Do you want maybe something a little more competitive or maybe a little bit more academic? Really? I think at the end of the day, it's picking what your goals are once you graduate and what kind of University can fulfill those and really trying to figure out what is going to be important when you really break it all down.

[00:09:33.570] - Kaitlyn Roose

Ditto. All of that, I guess I maybe have a couple of little things. So personally, for me, I went to Gannon University, which is in Erie, Pennsylvania, and when I was there, it had 4128 students. The only reason I know that is because I had to say that so many times when I was in student government, but I also wanted to be a collegiate athlete.

 

[00:09:52.060] - Kaitlyn Roose

So I played softball there for two years and then I played rugby for two years. So my interest in being a collegiate athlete, really, I don't want to say limited because that makes it sound like I had very few options, but it does limit your scope. So if you do want to play collegiate esports at the end of the day and you want to compete at that level, it will limit your options in terms of where you can go. So that's just something to consider. So if you really love a school, I don't even know, I'm trying to think, Derek, like a school that I really like. U of M. My entire family went to the University of Michigan. I didn't want to go to a larger school, but I know it was a really good school and I could do well there, but I wanted to play softball, so that kind of removed that from the table. So checking the major as well, which I don't remember who said that I think both of the guys said that. But do they have the major you want or do they have supplemental majors you want? The third thing, which I don't think a lot of people do, is look at the faculty list, where have the faculty worked or what type of industry, or have they been strictly in academia?

[00:11:04.270] - Kaitlyn Roose

So a lot of professors actually have really good experience that come from industry. So they have connections. They can get you those connections outside of College once you graduate, if you're really good in their class or you make a good connection with them because they know what you need to learn in industry. They don't just teach from a book. They know. Okay, a lot of this stuff is very practical. It's used consistently in industry, not to say that academics don't have that because they obviously are very knowledgeable. But if you want to go into industry with your career, then that might be a really good option for you as well. And the location was already said size of school is really important. And then how the school structures, I guess, testing, and if they're project based, if they're more testing based, and what opportunities they have there to mix like practicality with academics, so, for example, at Tech we have enterprises, so students are working with customers at GM, NASA, a bunch of other companies that literally are working on projects. We have one of our students that worked on a satellite that went in space.

[00:12:14.690] - Kaitlyn Roose

They're getting hands-on experience in College and getting credit for it. So those types of opportunities that are more academic but also prepare you career wise are really important if you have maybe a dead set goal of what you want to do. But school clubs and student orgs are also extremely important. What type of community is it? Is it close knit? Is it really nerdy? Is it or I don't know, like modern? I don't know. But you have to assess that in order to do that, you need to look at the campus and talk to students. So that's my long winded answer.

[00:12:47.680] - Grant Deppen

Okay. I do want to add I think there is the elephant in the room that we didn't talk about is cost. And I think the financial piece of College is always going to be a factor. And that's something that is sometimes difficult to weigh without officially applying to a school that won't tell you exactly how much financial aid they can give you until you're accepted. And so that is an unfortunate part, but it is a necessary consideration that I think every student should make. Is it cheaper for me to go to this school without a scholarship that's in state, or if I can get a partial scholarship out of state, where does that water level or find a level? And if not, is that something that I need to consider?

[00:13:31.510] - Kaitlyn Roose

Whether you're a parent or student, ask those questions like apply. I know application to tech is free, and I'm sure there are many other schools that have free applications. But apply if you're interested in the school and it's free. But you also want to know about scholarship opportunities. There's plenty more than just here's my GPA, here's my SAT/ACT. Maybe if you're good at drawing, maybe if you're good at music, maybe if you want to do ROTC, maybe if you're from a lower income household or there's FAFSA money that you can get, at least through athletics. That's what we always tell our recruits is file a FAFSA because you might just have money that you can just get because of certain circumstances or if you're from a certain I don't know, there's a bunch of different majors if you're interested in a specific major. We offer a $20,000 business scholarship for out of state students if you want to be in a business in the business College. So like all of these things that they don't maybe necessarily put out there and say, oh, we have scholarships, but at the end of the day, you take away your scholarship and what are you paying out of pocket and do some digging.

[00:14:42.390] - Claire LaBeaux

Sounds like some definite bicycle, right? Look around and see what you can find. I think, Kaitlyn, you mentioned something about whether you look for something or your parents. So that is an interesting question. When you think about kids applying for colleges or trying to decide where they're going to go, how much do you think the parents should be involved and how much do you think the kids should be doing on their own? Let's start with Henry this time.

[00:15:06.530] - Henry Johnston

I definitely think that's a very different question from different people because I know of people who were going to do every little piece that was more like me. I was going to go where I wanted to go. You're not going to tell me anything different. I know kids who don't care and what other parents will do for them. They're going to do all the applications and all the stuff. That's fine with them. I definitely think it's really important for the parents to have some kind of involvement, especially if you want to go into Esports. I love talking with parents to say, hey, this is real. When I was a kid or I guess when I was applying to colleges four years ago, Esports wasn't a thing. I've always been playing games in my life. So we've all heard that it's not viable in the future. You got to do something different, get off the games.

[00:15:47.670] - Claire LaBeaux

That has changed. There's a lot of money to be made here now.

[00:15:53.250] - Henry Johnston

Yes, there is. And so parents need to understand that because I think the majority of people don't really know that you can get a scholarship for Esports. That's unheard of to a lot of people. So really, I think the biggest thing for them is to join alongside. So you can be educated. So, you know, hey, my kid wants to do this. Okay. Well, what's the options? Ask questions that maybe the kids will think about. I mean, not every kid is going to know what they need to ask. I probably didn't know half of it, but my mom, having three siblings, knew all that they went through, knew what to ask about the finances, about support, about clubs, about all these different things. So I think it's a lot about being involved. But let the kids maybe lead and then step in when they need to, when you need to ask the right questions, maybe when they don't know what to ask. But I know that I think it's also really important to make sure that your kid is happy wherever they go. If they're going to be happy for the next four years and feel comfortable on the campus, that's what's most important.

[00:16:45.700] - Henry Johnston

Hopefully support them what they want and be involved, hopefully and at least be informed every step of the way. So it's a good line of communication.

[00:16:54.610] - Claire LaBeaux

That's good. Kaitlyn, Grant, anything to add to that parental involvement?

[00:16:59.470] - Grant Deppen

You know what? I think it is a little bit personal, depending on the student, depending on the parents as well. And I think at that point, it's Henry's point. You allow it to work for what works best for you, and I think you're going to know what that is, the relationship between the parent and the student. I can't say there's the best way or worse way that seems to be just kind of let it go and let people handle it the way they're comfortable doing it.

[00:17:25.680] - Kaitlyn Roose

Yeah. I think our job is as administrators and educators, I guess separately from an academic and a University ambassador and Esports coach or recruiters, those can be a little bit different. But from an academic administrative perspective, at the end of the day, our job is to educate and say, here's what our school can offer based on what your child's interests are like. Here's where we think they might be a good fit. Here are some things that can benefit them, scholarships, opportunities, whatever it is. Here's what our class numbers like. Here's the student clubs. And then from an Esports perspective, a lot of the time it's really, truly educating parents and rewiring what they have this perception of. Maybe they only see their kids playing in their room and they don't want to come down for dinner. It's just bringing me dinner. I don't want to come down. But in reality, that's not Esports. And so that perspective of giving the parents some information because maybe when they're talking with their kid, maybe the kid is just having trouble articulating what Esports is and what it means to them. And so a lot of times coaches are able to really do that from a beneficial standpoint, say, hey, we care about academics.

[00:18:40.040] - Kaitlyn Roose

Like if you're not academically eligible, you're not playing and here's how we manage their time and here's what we expect of them. And then maybe then that might turn the conversation a little bit differently if the parent isn't outwardly supportive, typically, maybe because they don't know. But I think it is really important, obviously, for the parents to be involved. But just as both Grant, and Henry were saying, it really, really depends on who's paying, you know, what the expectations are and things like that. And I'm not a parent, so I know once you're a parent, it kind of is very different. You may get a different perspective, but that's just from our experience talking with parents.

[00:19:22.010] - Claire LaBeaux

Yeah, I found some of those College bills, I wrote the checks. I can tell you it's crazy. But you know what I mean? As parents, we all want the best for our kids, and it's trying to figure out how to help them with that. And I think, Kaitlyn, you made a great point about helping to break the stereotypes a little bit because we talked about that before we started. There are some stereotypes that exist and they've really changed. I mean, even just in the last five years, so much has changed in the world of esports. And I mean, look at all of your programs that are new within the last five years. So there's a lot happening. There are a lot of positives that are happening in the esports world. The industry is growing like crazy. So there's a ton of opportunity. And I always say, I want my kids to be the happiest they can be. And so if they love something, they should pursue a job that they're going to love. Right. And so I admire the parents who say, I know nothing about your esports, but this is what my kids love. So I'm going to try to help them thrive and succeed in it.

[00:20:24.260] - Kaitlyn Roose

That's like the most quoted thing I've heard honestly recently from parents is we had a family fun day and a lot of kids came in with their parents and the parents were like, I don't know anything about esports, but I see him smile and talking with his friends, and that makes me happy, you know, blah, blah, blah. So that means a lot. And that happens in College, too. We, as administrators, care about our players. If we don't care about our players, then I can't even fathom thinking about that. We care about them. Even if we're not their parents, we care about them, too.

[00:20:59.480] - Claire LaBeaux

I hope so. That's good. So Sean asked a great question that I had wanted to talk about anyway, and that is what are you looking for in students that you recruit? Kaitlyn, you go first?

[00:21:14.110] - Kaitlyn Roose

So, I guess. How do you want us to answer this question? Do you want us to answer this question with the perspective of our universities in mind? Do you want us to answer this question on a more general level? I have an answer for both.

[00:21:28.570] - Claire LaBeaux

I'd be happy to hear both.

[00:21:30.530] - Kaitlyn Roose

Okay, so from a general perspective, honestly, the traditional sport recruitment is literally the same, and it just hasn't been hammered into their heads yet because it's so new. But grades, you have to get good grades. You have to do something other than say, I'm the number one player NA, because frankly, if your grades are crap, I don't care if you're the best player in the world. I will not take you to some schools. May I personally at Michigan Tech will not. I want you to succeed academically, so get good grades. Two, attitude. Not everyone's perfect, but it's very obvious when someone has an ego or an attitude problem or is uncoachable. That is one of the most obvious things that you can find just by talking to somebody and just how they speak about things. So there's that no one's perfect again. And honestly, I've had people come in and say, hey, I have a problem. Sometimes I melt down under pressure, like, I really want to work on it, but I recognize it as an issue and that's somebody that wants to self improve, so that's really important. And then the last thing I would say generally is some level of extracurricular activity or something that's not just I went to school and I played video games, if you're on the Esports team, maybe at your high school, that is an extracurricular.

[00:22:55.650] - Kaitlyn Roose

That is an athletic event. That's something that you're doing, a commitment. I'm talking about you're not in a club. You're just going home and playing extracurriculars. To me, you develop social skills, leadership skills, communication skills, and all of those things are really different. So those are the three things for me that I would say specifically to Michigan Tech. We have turned down many recruits because they can't get into the University. Our average GPA for incoming students, I believe, is like a three, three, four. And we have mid to high tier test scores, which we're actually getting rid of for admissions. So you have to get into the University and you have to show that you're going to be able to succeed here, because it's really hard. It's really hard to be up here. Two, obviously, that needs to be a priority for you. You need to be good at what you do, be good at the game, but you also need to have chemistry with the players. If you're someone that comes in and thinks you're going to run the show straight up and you just don't care about what anybody else says, and you have zero chemistry with any of the players, I don't really want that.

[00:23:57.460] - Kaitlyn Roose

I want a good cohesive environment, willingness to learn, willingness to improve, and dedication, because being a student athlete isn't just coming in and playing. And I hate to use the term club because there are so many clubs that are so competitive and take it so seriously. They're so intense. So I guess it's not just a casual group and we can get into that. Maybe expectations or day to day things that are expected of players later if that comes up. So, those would be things that I would say personally. So if you're a coach or a parent or a student, interact with coaches and recruiters very professionally, just because Esports tends to have a very meme-y and laid back approach, sometimes just DM me on discord professional grant, please spell check your emails and DMs that makes me not want to recruit you or even read them. If you don't spell my name correctly or what you're saying correctly and that's just a pet peeve of mine, it shows you're not attentive to details. Those are my 8 million cents in so many words, I will stop talking.

[00:25:04.580] - Henry Johnston

And I definitely think the part about their attitude is really important. Right? Because of Esports, sometimes the community can be a little bit toxic and that's unfortunate, especially with different genders or different kinds of ethnicities or where you're coming from. So when you know you might be in a club or a variety program with women, how are you going to deal with that? How are you going to handle that? How are you going to interact with these people? Because sometimes when I have a one on one with a student, that's not always going to be the way that they're going to talk, maybe on their stream afterwards and everyone's life, if you're probably in Esports at this point, you're probably pretty social, right? I mean, there's a lot of tourists out there that we know. We always say it, but whatever you put out there is permanent. But it's more of whatever is put out there. Someone's going to find out. And if it's not something good, we're going to recognize that, because I think a lot of us are looking to build a program in the type of way with the type of people, because we want that culture and it's really important to make a good first impression.

[00:25:59.320] - Henry Johnston

So spell check all those things. Also, if I plan a meeting with a student, make sure to show up. I can't tell you how many meetings I've had that have been dodged. I have heard no words, and I've set up second meetings, third meetings, and the same thing happens. That's normally not really a good sign because first impressions are important. You're going to get recruited to potentially get a scholarship for a significant amount of money. You should be willing to be a little more intentional about how you go about things. And I think really furthermore, it's really just about also what experience do you have? Because obviously extracurricular is awesome. Academics have been awesome. But how are you competing right now? Are you on an amateur team? Are you maybe in a sole tournament that you won? Do you have a format player? How much money have you earned right now? That shows competency. Sometimes rank doesn't always matter. But have you gotten the highest rank in the game? Right. Because sometimes that means a little bit more than I play a lot or these other things. Right. There's a lot of different things that can really apply to this. I think it's just thinking about what value you can bring and talking about it. And some things you might not think are valuable are put there for fun, because we might not think about what kind of things you do in your free time? What kind of ways do you maybe give back to the community and do those kinds of things? Those are things that really do go a long way. So it's really just the whole kind of the holistic picture that you give to us, the bigger the better.

[00:27:26.650] - Grant Deppen

Yes. And to kind of wrap that up and put a bow, we're recruiting people and we need quality people that are going to make our program and our organization better. And that's great, to Kaitlyn's point, that's great. If they're the best player imaginable, but if they aren't able to engage and interact with their teammates, if they're going to be disrespectful to people based on any number of reasons, if they can't be a decent person, then they're not going to fit well in this environment. I think that's one space where esports has a very big opportunity in terms of reducing the toxicity and gaming and all that goes along with that and the negativity in gaming, if we aren't willing to recruit to find that, if we're only looking to recruit the best players and we don't want to recruit the best people, then we're really not doing our job to the best of our ability. To Henry's point when it comes to playing and Caitlyn as well, we want to see that you have a background of competitive play, not just that you've grinded out a game that's great and that can show a certain level of skill, but how do you interact with your teammates?

[00:28:33.010] - Grant Deppen

How do you take that constructive criticism of coaching? Because that's what goes from here all the way up. And so those are the big things for me.

[00:28:42.430] - Kaitlyn Roose

Yeah, great point.

[00:28:43.770] - Claire LaBeaux

That's awesome.

[00:28:44.870] - Kaitlyn Roose

The only thing I did want to add really quick about recruitment is make sure you know the school that you're talking to. I've gotten a lot of emails and messages from people who very clearly have done zero research on the University, let alone like the program, our social media, and our website isn't God tier by any means, but we have all of the games that we feel listed. So if you do your basic research and show that actually you're not just mass emailing a bunch of directors and coaches. So that's my last two cents.

[00:29:23.650] - Claire LaBeaux

Yeah, that's awesome. I think Henry pointed out something as you were talking. You said we're building a program here and right now is a unique time for these students. Right. As they're going to College in these esports programs, you're helping build someone who goes to your school. Kaitlyn is helping build the program in ten and 15 and 20 years. Like what they're doing right now is foundational for that, which is like, it's really cool. It's also a little bit of pressure, right? You probably are going to have to be extra top tier right now to make the cut.

[00:29:54.850] - Henry Johnston

I think at the same time, though, it is good to be said that College is a developmental period. I mean, who I am today is not the person I was. I went to College. I really learned a lot and really grew as a person. So as much as we talk about, don't be toxic. Don't do these things like you don't have to be perfect. As long as you're willing to show potential and you're willing to say, hey, maybe I've made mistakes or hey, I'm ready to learn who I want to be and to really make the best version of myself. Right. That's what I would love to see. If you're dedicated, if you maybe made a mistake here and there, we've all done it. These kids are 14, 15, 16, 17. I've done some dumb things when I was young. But if you say, hey, I've made mistakes or hey, I want to get better, that's what College is for. So I want to be able to enable you to learn. This is what you have to do. This is how you work with the team. This is how you become coachable. And I think that's a really important notion too, right, so, sometimes the middle of the spectrum is just as good as the highest point, because what our job is to help you get to the highest point.

[00:30:54.670] - Henry Johnston

So if you can show that you can work with us, that goes a long way.

[00:30:59.360] - Kaitlyn Roose

Yeah, good point.

[00:31:01.900] - Claire LaBeaux

Yeah, that's really true. I'm just going to bring up because you all have mentioned it's good if you are in high school, if you've been in a club or played on a team where you can demonstrate something like that. And so if anyone is watching this that is not part of NASEF or has not participated in different leagues or clubs or programs, we have all kinds of opportunities available, and it's totally free to join. We run tournaments in conjunction with our partners' high school esports League. So you can join a tournament. And we have a code of conduct. So you're already at the high school level learning to play within those same kinds of guidelines. We have GPA requirements. So it's essentially the same idea as what you all are doing minus scholarship, which is something else that we should talk about. But helping kids to develop that understanding, to start playing in that environment and develop those personal skills as well as the game skills that are going to help carry them into and beyond College, because that's the reality of College. Right. The goal isn't just College, it's what are you going to do after school?

[00:32:09.260] - Claire LaBeaux

What are you going to do? What's your career going to be? So preparing for both of those things. So I didn't ask that upfront. Do all of your schools offer scholarships for esports? 

[00:32:22.930] - Grant Deppen

No. We're the outlier there. We're working to try and get that done as soon as we can. But I think that's one of those things that students have to factor in the financial piece with that is the scholarship, the beneficial piece that puts me over the top and all that kind of thing. But no, we're the ones that don't offer it right now.

[00:32:43.210] - Kaitlyn Roose

Grant, do you guys have a clause for how winnings are distributed or is that something that because I know there are several, many schools that don't offer scholarships and they have some of the best programs, I don't know in the country necessarily. I'm not going to say a fact that I don't know about. But they have very good schools. I know they've won tournaments and stuff, and sometimes that is also something to consider if the school allows them to use that.

[00:33:11.020] - Grant Deppen

Yeah, exactly. All of our tournament Championship winnings go back directly back to the students. And that was part of that was the consideration of if we can't offer scholarships, there's a right to earn the money that you've earned, but then also the cost of attendance. Thinking about that, a scholarship that covers academics, doesn't cover your rent, doesn't cover your books. And so there are those other full cost of attendance considerations that we were thinking about, too.

[00:33:38.410] - Kaitlyn Roose

Cool.

[00:33:41.110] - Claire LaBeaux

I'm just going to mention here an upcoming College fair that we have going on because we had one student right at the beginning here doing it right, like introducing himself, saying, hey, I'm interested in your school and it's really important to make a personal connection and do your research first. So, you know a little bit about the schools you're talking to, but definitely making that connection with the program directors or whoever you can at the school is important. So next Thursday, we have a College esports fair going on. We have last count, I think, 33 different colleges that are going to be attending. And it's a place where high school students can register and you'll fill in just some basic information that we talked about at the beginning, like where do you live, what size school you're interested in, what games do you want to play if you're going to play? And then we also are looking for what other esports interests you have career wise, or do you want to be a streamer, designer, shoutcaster, that kind of thing, just to help narrow down and make the matches. So I'm going to drop the link in the chat right now.

[00:34:44.680] - Claire LaBeaux

And that's a place you can go if you're a student. Just go for free sign up, and then you'll be matched up with the colleges. And so potentially next week be talking one on one with some of these folks.

[00:34:54.230] - Kaitlyn Roose

Which would be: did you hear that she said free things to get College students, too? Well, three things. Merchandise, food and free.

[00:35:03.840] - Claire LaBeaux

Right? Exactly.

[00:35:04.970] - Kaitlyn Roose

And I'm sure it works for the rest of you all, too.

[00:35:07.240] - Henry Johnston

Yeah, exactly.

[00:35:08.500] - Claire LaBeaux

Right. I know. Yeah. There are a lot of places where you pay a lot of money to potentially be connected with the College recruiter, and this is 100% free, and you will actually definitely be connecting with them, which is cool. So, Kaitlyn, you brought up something earlier, and I think this would be good for us to go through as we get ready to wrap up here. But what's the day to day like for a kid in an Esports program? Let's see. Henry, let's start with you this time. So, a kid at Clark, what's their day like?

[00:35:40.100] - Henry Johnston

Yeah. So obviously, I think for all of our students, you got class in the morning. So whatever your schedule is, depending on your major, you have classes at different times, whether you have to wake up early or you could sleep a little bit longer, at least for Esports, if you want to dedicate your time to being an athlete in that way, we're looking for four or five days a week. You've got practice two or three times. You obviously have your competition, whether that's one day or two days a week. And then what we like to do is also kind of have slave tables instituted as a way to show that, hey, academics are just as important. I know that one of my personal beliefs is you can't succeed in one, to succeed in the other. Both are equally as important. You are a student athlete. That's why there is a hyphen there. So having that astuteness and of course, you've got sometimes your one or two times eventually we'll have to travel to maybe this land or that land or maybe this weekend event if there's a finals or something. But normally I think it's just at least for what we're trying to do is very similar to any traditional Esports.

[00:36:33.770] - Henry Johnston

So like our football team, you have practice almost every single day, whether that's at least for Esports, it's probably later in the day, sometimes 6:00/7:00 P.m., just based on how Esports operates. So after class, maybe you do your homework, take care of two projects, go to practice, take care of that or play your match. And you can obviously do whatever you want after the night. That's kind of what you expect in our University here.

[00:36:58.450] - Claire LaBeaux

Awesome. Grant, how about you?

[00:37:00.320] - Grant Deppen

Yeah, same here. Our practice schedules, our teams and our players are committing themselves to three to four practices a week. And then the game schedule can be dictated by a League organizer. And so we know, okay, Monday night is going to be a game or game night for a particular game title. Our schedule is flexible around that with our students. Again, with the focus on academics. We want to make sure that they're taking the full course load and that they're able to have the academic experience that they want out of the University. And so we Institute some of those study table types of things, but then also social components. How can the team socialize outside of their environment that they're in? As with traditional sports, it's good to sometimes just get people outside of their competitive environment and like doing something social or maybe that's going to the Rec Center and working out or doing something else off campus. And so setting those times aside for people to really kind of like mellow out and take away from and step away from the game, I think is really beneficial as well. But the schedule for us is evening times is usually our main practice and competition time, and we go from there looking bigger picture outside the day to day our competitions usually get started the first three to four weeks of an academic semester, maybe a little bit longer in the fall, and then they'll run until close to the end of the semester, and then they'll pick up pretty quickly again in the spring. But overall, it's pretty much an entire academic year that you're participating in part of the teams.

[00:38:33.730] - Kaitlyn Roose

Yeah, Ditto they have classes typically for us, if you're a Stem major, there's a lot of evening labs, so that's something we have to consider. We do our best to schedule practices around classes, but being in the athletic Department, students have opportunities to get some extra time or reschedule exams due to games. So I'm sure that's very consistent across our program, which is, again, very consistent with a lot of programs. We limit to 20 hours a week of sanctioned team activity, which includes practices, games, workouts, tournaments, things like that. So we have two days a week of mandatory workouts, the third is optional. And actually a lot of players do work out on their own outside of that study table as well. Our student athlete GPA within the Department is three five on average. And actually several of our women's teams have actually like a three seven or three eight on average at a Stem school. So that's really good. So our goal as a program is to kind of get up to that point. So we do have study tables. If you're below a 35, they're required. All freshmen have study tables every week, and we have leadership development within our program as well.

[00:39:56.240] - Kaitlyn Roose

So all athletes who are identified as potential leaders in years two and three attend some leadership development courses, seminars, et cetera. And then all seniors have one seminar that they have to go to each month for the end of the semester, transitioning them out of being a student athlete and into their careers because what are you going to do with all your spare time if you're not at class or practice or workouts? It's kind of a culture shock for people who are used to that routine. But yeah, it's pretty consistent with these other two in terms of scheduling. We limit two leagues per game per semester, and that's to avoid burnout. There are some schools that do every tournament and every League under the sun, which is totally fine if that's what you want in other schools that do things similar to us. So the reason I do that is so they can focus on academics. They can feel like they can have time to socialize. Hey, I want to go to the women's soccer game. Hey, I want to have a game night with my friends. Great. Go do it. Assuming it's not over a game or practice and they have time to relax and step away from the game.

[00:41:06.890] - Kaitlyn Roose

Like Grant was saying, it's really important to be able to do that, especially in College, because they're not just athletes, they're students, but also they're people. So being able to help develop them and allow them to enjoy their experiences in College, which are the best years of your life. If you're well supported in doing something you're passionate about, why can't they be so we just want to be able to enable that with an appropriate schedule.

[00:41:30.710] - Claire LaBeaux

Yeah. Well, and I think that's great training for life after College, too. Right? Because most people are going to graduate and your first year is in a career, no matter where you are, you usually are definitely grinding it out and putting in the hours as you prove yourself. So learning how to create that balance is super important. There's some interesting conversation in the chat around NCAA and potentially Title Nine, which I don't think we have to get into all of that, but I would be interested just to have one of you comment on how NACE works, because NACE is not really a governing body per se, but it's a place for the schools to connect. So can one of you just describe your school's relationship, like how nice it works for you?

[00:42:18.910] - Kaitlyn Roose

I'm not going to answer that. I just wanted to clarify. You're asking about NACE. You mentioned, like Title Nine and NCAA.

[00:42:25.720] - Claire LaBeaux

That was another one someone asked about NCAA and Title Nine. But I think at this point, NACE is sort of operating as that body within collegiate esports that gives schools a place to connect and manage and run tournaments together. So it's not NCAA, but it feels to me like a similar

[00:42:46.330] 

The only comment I will make and that's because my Suzanne Stanley is very big on Title XI as far as opportunities go, us having an updated roster and making sure that we are giving opportunities to diverse opportunities, and that that's a priority for us. And it's important to have a safe space. Our Department does gather that, like roster information and things like that for Title Nine to report to the NCAA, even though they don't require it from esports so, that is an important topic, and it's something that isn't really talked about, but it's an interesting concept. So whoever wants to take the NACE, go ahead. But I did feel that that was important to mention. I'm not sure if it's different at other schools, but ours, that's a priority for us.

[00:43:35.090] - Claire LaBeaux

Yeah. Thank you. Yeah.

[00:43:36.640] - Grant Deppen

So one thing to note when we're talking about collegiate esports and esports in general is the unique relationship between the game developers and the rights that they have with intellectual property over the games that they've created. And so that varies in terms of how strict or how loose they hold that intellectual property. And so NACE really acts as I would say, a conduit between the game developers and schools and universities and players to provide a variety of options in terms of game titles and connection with those developers. So there are some collegiate leagues and some collegiate games that exist outside of the NACE Purview, and they may have the support of the game developer or they may not have to have that. But NACE is really organizing itself and to really structure that a little bit and provide that support that I think is necessary in order to grow collegiate esports because it could be that there's an organization that runs a Rocket League tournament, and there's another one that runs Call of Duty, and there's another one that runs. And it would be very kind of scattered. And NACE is really acting as a pathway. So I wouldn't say that they're necessarily a governing body as much as they are an organizer that has those connections and also creates a framework for schools and universities to join. That I would say is very beneficial. Whether that's intent to complete forms, having standardized requirements for students in terms of their enrollment and things like that, all of that is relatively standardized, but I wouldn't necessarily call them a governing body. So they act as kind of that middle ground support for everybody to run quality esports programs.

[00:45:20.480] - Henry Johnston

Yeah. And I think just to quickly answer that, I know that I think a lot of people included have a lot of differing opinions on if governing parts are necessary with NCAA, and they're kind of like in your name, image, likeness. NACE is definitely not a governing body. It's a self governing body. So each member institution can vote on kind of the bylaws of our group and vote on maybe some of the things we want to see whether we want to add a game title for competition. I'd really like to think of NACE. Just like any other kind of League, you can compete in a variety of different games. You can choose to go somewhere else. But additionally, NACE has great resources for program development. They have great sponsors and connections to really learn. Hey, if you don't know how to run a program. NACE can show you some of the people to connect with. There's some great directors who are involved. Obviously, we have all of us three who are some great people to speak with. And it's just a great kind of resource to use, but definitely not governing the industry as a whole, just trying to make it better and giving resources to people who need it as well as competition, if that's something you're interested in as well.

[00:46:21.260] - Kaitlyn Roose

It's definitely a mix of resources, like a resource database, both just information people and places two giant tournament League organizers, and that just is what they are. And then obviously they provide some mentorship and guidance, but I would argue they're not as hands on. And controlling isn't really the right word. I mean, I really don't want to use governing, but they're not like hands in, you know, everything. Because so many universities and schools are different. What my school functions with and requires is different from other schools, but we can still compete under the same rules and guidelines. So as much as the NCAA, they control a lot. They do mandatory drug testing, they do our requirements in and out of season. And I tweeted about this the other day. We don't have an out of season. There isn't. There are still summer tournaments in esports, like arguably summer is a season. Is it maybe the primary season for Rocket League? No. Or Overwatch? No, but it's still technically it could arguably be in season. So, yeah, they're not as hands on or involved, but the autonomy and the allowance of the coaches and directors to have a say in how we want to be a part of collegiate esports and what that looks like is really important. Someone needed to do it, and they organized it and made it something that is respectable and very helpful for students, staff and administrators to be able to get into esports organizations such as NACE.

[00:48:21.370] - Claire LaBeaux

Yeah, I just dropped a link in the chat for NACE because a parent had asked earlier about what schools offer what games. So you can find the directories at the Nasef website and do a search based on different titles. And also just see what colleges offer esports in the listing. It says if they offer scholarships or not. So there's a lot of really good information there. And then kind of the summary of what you all just talked about, which is the benefit of Nasef. And if you're in collegiate esports and you want to attend a College related to esports, you'll see the kind of support they have. And you might want to consider one of those member colleges more closely. So, we have covered a lot of ground. I thank you all so much for your time. I'm certain that this has been helpful for students who attended or will see this later. I saw lots of teachers commenting, and I know that they're going to take this and probably share the video at the next club meeting with their students. So I'm looking forward to that. Thank you so much for your time and your devotion to esports and making it a better place for kids.

[00:49:29.210] - Claire LaBeaux

I'm really excited to see these changes that we've been talking about as they evolve. It's awesome. So if you are interested in collegiate esports, we do these sessions once a month. So a month from today or I should say four weeks from today, I'll be gathering with another group of collegiate leaders to talk about issues and ideas that are really important to high schoolers as they look at their path into College. So be sure you join us then and if you haven't yet registered for that free, free College esports fair. All right. Thank you so much. We'll see you all later.

[00:50:06.010] - Henry Johnston

Thank you. Bye.

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