Lethbridge College is ready to make its mark as a hub for esports activity in southern Alberta. With the popularity of esports on the rise, the college has launched initiatives to promote gaming at the competitive, recreational and community levels.
Gaming technology has reached new heights and has engaged countless competitors across the world, as both a communications platform and a competitive environment. Bringing esports to its community aligns with Lethbridge College’s history of adopting leading-edge technologies and creating a welcoming environment for students.
“We know more and more students are using esports as a way to interact, not only among their own social groups, but with like-minded individuals around the world,” says Dr. Samantha Lenci, Lethbridge College Provost and Vice President – Academic. “We also see the opportunities for those interested in esports to follow their passions into our technology-based programs such as Multimedia Production, Virtual and Augmented Reality, or Computer Information Technology, so it makes sense for our college to be a leader in this area.”
Beginning this semester, the college is focusing its esports efforts in three key areas. Serious gamers will have opportunities to join the Kodiaks esports team and take part in the newly-formed Canadian Collegiate Esports League (CCEL), which will feature competitive teams from nearly 20 post-secondary institutions from across Canada. Those with a more passing interest in esports will be able to take part in tournaments and intramural leagues organized by the Lethbridge College Students’ Association. And the college will become a community hub for esports, organizing and hosting tournaments for high school students from across the region.
“Gaming is a passion for so many people, and we’re excited to create a space for gamers to play together, whether they’re just looking for some casual fun or want to compete at a higher level,” says Allyson Cikor, an instructor in the Virtual and Augmented Reality program who will serve as the coach of the Kodiaks esports team.
During the 2020-21 academic year, the Lethbridge College Kodiaks sponsored their first esports student-athletes, taking part in both Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) and Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) tournaments. With the formation of the CCEL, gamers will have a consistent opportunity to wear the Kodiaks colours, while getting the benefits of other Kodiaks student-athletes, including developing leadership and teamwork skills that will serve them well in other aspects of their lives.
“It is exciting that we can add more student-athletes to our Kodiaks family,” says Todd Caughlin, manager of Kodiaks Athletics. “We saw the passion our inaugural Kodiaks esports student-athletes brought to their competitions last year, and we feel like we can build something really special with a dedicated coach and resources. I’m looking forward to cheering on our team this season.”
Competitors will compete in a variety of games, such as Rocket League, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. The Kodiaks esports team will have a dedicated practice space on campus and will provide opportunities for the college’s Digital Communications and Media students to do game production and play-by-play opportunities.
Those interested in learning more can check out the LC eSports Discord.