The Hub, where the Esports program is located. Photo Credit Kate Swartz

Esports at SOU: Interview with Ashley Rad

With in person classes and events fastly approaching, many students are wondering: what is there to do at SOU? This past week, The Siskyou interviewed Ashley Rad on Esports at SOU as the program has many exciting events coming up. 

When asked about what the Esports Program is, Ashley replied, “The SOU Esports Program is a new program at SOU and was founded by Melissa Bates in the summer of 2020 just before last school year. It, being a brand new program, meant that no one really knew what they were doing and had to improvise on a lot.” While Melissa hired Ashley to manage social media and outreach, Ashley also was the head of the League of Legends team last year.

She informed The Siskiyou that the program’s goal is to be a “safe space and inclusive environment that is open to all students”. While there is a heavy focus on the Esports teams, the program itself is open to everyone who is interested in gaming or getting involved. 

The Esports teams compete with other schools that play the same games and Ashley is working on getting in contact with the other schools to set up matches that will take place in the winter and spring. Fall term is mainly for tryouts and practice, and she hopes that the captains of the teams will help in figuring out which schools to play against. The Esports program is hopefully going to be a student led program, so they are looking for a lot of people to join and work with them. 

There is also an Esports Management minor offered at SOU, along with SOU’s competitive Esports teams. The goal of the minor is to give students an insight into the Esports industry as it is a new, but fast growing, industry that is highly present in the modern world. In classes, students will be learning about “the values of Esports, enhancing people’s plays, promotions, the nature of Esports through all ages, marketing, event management, innovation and technology” Ashley said, who is in the process of getting her minor in Esports Management. 

The Esports office, also known as “The Hub” is located in the Recreation Center right across the hall from the Outdoor Program office, and it has 12 stations stocked with Alienware computers and comfortable chairs. Ashley noted that “The Hub is there to be a safe space for people to come in and game, or for the Esports teams to come in and practice”. Hopefully when it becomes safer to meet on campus, the Hub will be open to not only SOU students but for outsiders as well, including people from the Medford school district.

The Esports program is one year old and is still finding its sea legs, trying to figure out which games students would be interested in. Last year they only had a League of Legends team, but this year they’ve expanded to four teams and one club. The teams this year are League of Legends, Valorant, Rocket League and Apex Legends, and then a Super Smash Bros club. Tryouts start this week on October 7 and go until October 22nd, and the dates are as follows:

League of Legends tryouts are October 7 and 8 from 4:00-7:30. 

Valorant tryouts are on October 11 and 12 from 4:00-7:30.

Rocket League tryouts are October 14 and 15 from 4:00-7:30

Apex Legends tryouts are October 18 and 19 from 4:00-7:30

Super Smash Bros Club tryouts are October 21 and 22 from 4:00-7:30. 

Ashley explained to the Siskiyou how tryouts for the Esports teams will work, since she is now officially heading them this year, and she hopes to have tryouts in The Hub, Covid-19 permitting. Students will sign up via a google doc and write their name, the game they are trying out for, their username, schedule, and why they are interested in joining the team. The next step is getting an email from Ashley with a link to tryouts where students will join the Discord, then the specific server for the game where Ashley and her team will be waiting in the lobby and will guide them through to tryouts. 

Most games will be custom matches with Ashley spectating or playing, also with volunteers spectating and/or playing against them. The matches will be recorded and Ashley will be looking at statistics and communication skills of the players. 

The teams are looking for players with good teamwork skills, no use of profane language, the ability to work with their teammates and not be too harsh, and people who are supportive. They also want people who are willing to work together, willing to improve and are not using profanities. 

Ashley and the rest of the Esports program would love to see many people at tryouts in the next few weeks. For more information on the esports program and events follow the Instagram page @sou_esports

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