SAU Buzz

St. Ambrose Adding a New Varsity Sport

by Kara Fairfield
Posted on Feb 02, 2018

DAVENPORT, Iowa- In the past three years, St. Ambrose University has added multiple new sports programs to Ambrose in hopes to bring in new students to the SAU community.

Men’s and women’s lacrosse, swimming and an athletic marching band are some of the programs that have been added within the past three years. In the fall semester of the 2018-19, St. Ambrose will be adding an esports team to their list of varsity sports programs.

The St. Ambrose esports team will have two teams that will play Overwatch and League of Legends. Both of these games are multiplayer video games that focus on the aspect of teamwork.

Associate Professor of Biology and supervisor of St Ambrose’s League of Legends club team, Neil Aschliman, sees the importance of a team in this type of sport.

“These games are team-based games, as they have to work with a strategy and leadership,” Aschliman said.

The esports team will bring in students that match Ambrose’s academic programs such as their different S.T.E.M. programs. Like other varsity sports at St Ambrose, St. Ambrose will give talent-based scholarships for the deserving gamers. Director of athletics Ray Shovlain said this new sport will attract students that will be interested in the S.T.E.M. programs at St Ambrose.

“70% of gamers are S.T.E.M. students who would be interested in programs such as health science and technology, which will be a natural fit for the team and for the St Ambrose community,” Shovlain said. “We are hoping to have 15 new students come to Ambrose because of this program, we are also hoping for current students to join as well. In the next four-year period we hope to build to have 80 students on the team.”

Ethan Parchert, a student interested in joining the team in the fall, is part of one of these S.T.E.M. programs—computer network and security.

“This is different for the kids who don’t play sports but still want to be part of a team at St. Ambrose,” Parchert said.

St. Ambrose will be joining Grandview University and Morningside college, becoming the third college in Iowa to have esports as a varsity sport. On the other side of the river, there are also three Illinois colleges that have esports as a part of their varsity sports program: Robert Morris, Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois College.

Just like the other varsity sports at Ambrose, the esports team will be part of a non-profit association. Theirs will be the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). NACE will oversee national rules and competitions in the college level.

   Esports at the collegiate level typically has teams of seven competitors for each game. St Ambrose’s team will be coed with opportunities available for female and male competitors.

Recruiting for this sport will be done differently than other collegiate varsity sports. The coach, who has not been selected yet, will have to use unique methods to fulfill the recruiting aspect of their job.