Under Dr. Justin Lambright’s continued assistance throughout a three-year period of building and adjustment, the AU esports team is now set for regular competition.
After securing a $25,000 Falls Development Initiative grant, Lambright helped build a lab for games to be played and recruited a team of students ready to play.
“I’ve been involved with this from the beginning,” said Lambright. “When our first coach resigned early this semester, I had been working fairly closely with him to help get this thing going. I sort of took it upon myself to do stuff. I never had a title––I just sort of stepped up and did it.”
Now with a new coach prepared to take on the role, Lambright can take a step back from his position within the team.
“I’m excited to hand that to him and go back to being a professor,” Lambright said. “I would say I’m more of an interim director. I’m not coaching, and I’m not actually showing them how to improve at their games. I’m working more as an administrator to make sure competitions are happening, our streams are happening, the lab is being built, making sure that jerseys are getting produced, making sure students get access to the lab, managing schedules and speaking to people on campus who can step into certain roles.”
One such figure is Heather Kim, who serves as vice president of Student Admissions. Lambright expressed how her support has been instrumental in the growth of AU’s esports team, and how esports on campus was not an easy concept to initially find support for.
“She’s seen how effective it can be and how it can grow and be a big deal on campus. She’s supported it a lot,” Lambright explained.
Lambright explained that many were hesitant about the idea of an official esports team at first. However, the esports team is now competing and winning against schools like Missouri State University and Butler University in Rocket League, League of Legends, and other games.
Lambright went on to explain just how difficult winning and competing in games against such large schools can be.
“It’s one of those things that it does require fine motor skills, extremely good reflexes and is really intense mentally,” said Lambright. “It can be really draining. It’s not something I really believed until I dove into it. If you start playing and watching it, it’s something you’ll realize is a really big deal. It has a lot of elements that we love in our traditional sports.”
For esports, games are streamed on the game streaming platform Twitch. AU’s esports Twitch page, which now has over 70 followers and is considered an official Twitch affiliate, can be found at “AndersonUEsports.”