ESports, a sensation that has swept through and kept a hold on the world, has reached Nacogdoches through Stephen F. Austin University. Several students have formed an organization around their shared hobby of gaming. When the organization was created, they quickly began growing, this year having acquired over 500 members inside their community Discord, and having formed 15+ teams for a variety of games, most notably League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League.
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Head Coach, Sheldon Scroggins. When asked about the culture of the organization, he stated, “[The organization] is a group of competitive gamers from all walks of life, looking to further our passion as a gamers to the competitive level. We are a huge community of Lumberjacks that work with each other everyday to be the best we can possibly be.” Scroggins, as head coach, acts as a liaison to the coaches and administrators, handling any concerns or needs of the coaches. Recently, the organization had recruited a second head coach to help him and the organization with the workload that comes with so many teams.
When asked about the personal and professional growth of players and himself, Scroggins said, “Each day our players join up in their respective games and work towards winning. We are not satisfied with second place, and as such we work hard to be the best players we can be. This attitude is reflected in their daily lives. We are confident, but not arrogant, we understand the value of hard work and instill this in our players each time we meet.” I have had the opportunity to witness many players tryout for teams hosted by the organization, and have been impressed to see the wide diversity in students, everyone from the largest athletes to the youngest freshmen, have put in the time to work at a hobby they thoroughly enjoy.
Communication is a huge part of our gameplay, and without it, we hinder our own potential.Sheldon Scroggins
Scroggins was one of the founding members of the organization, originally filling the role of Historian, then moved to being in charge of public relations when he found that his skills were put to better use in gaining members for the organization and forwarding their potential. He holds the organization closely, and says that he loves the opportunities that the organization, and his position within, have offered. “I am proud to be the head coach and the connections I have made with players, coaches, administrators, and Faculty & Staff is something I never would have dreamed of. This organization is built around the betterment of skill, and as such, we want to show off the hard work that each player puts in.”
I also had the privilege of speaking with Vice President of the organization, Patrick Holub, who had described the organization’s culture as, “a very friendly and welcoming campus organization that attempts to cater to all types of people, and offer many different opportunities for those in the club.” When asked to elaborate on opportunities that may arise for those who are a member of the organization, Holub and stated that they “offer both casual and competitive playstyles.” Holub said that the organization believes that “any individual that can communicate effectively with others” tends to do excel in the organization, “[they] are all about a constant stream of information regarding the club and others’ general activities.”
As Vice President of the organization, Holub takes a vocal role, speaking at events and making sure that those in other positions are kept on track when it comes to time management. When asked on what he sees for the future of his position, Holub said that he, “could see the position providing much more logistical support, for example, planning meetings and keeping record of event participation.” As Vice President, it would be believed that one would enjoy their organization, and Holub definitely feels this way, stating, “I really enjoy working with this organization… It does very well, regarding some of the other clubs I’ve participated in, where communication is lacking in some respects.”
Holub also reassures, that while, “[they] have teams participating in tournaments and practices, we plan on having many events for regular members, those not on competitive teams.”
The next officer I spoke with, Damien Z, known online as Lasm, had been one of the first members to join Lumberjack ESports. Having started in the organization as a player, Damien had worked his way up to become a community manager, recently becoming the assistant coach for the competitive Overwatch teams. When asked about the interactions between coaches and teams, Damien says, “I think the interactions between our coaches and teams are great. Our organization is going through its first full year of activity, as we couldn’t do much during the COVID-19 shutdowns. As of now, we are going through the process of creating teams and practice schedules, which provides a great time for coaches to communicate and help each other in order to create a practice schedule that works for them and their teams since COVID. Personally, as the Community Manager and Assistant Coach for the Overwatch team, I have been working with three other coaches on a constant basis to ensure everything is able to operate smoothly. The other coaches and I have become good friends because of how often we work with each other.” He went on to describe how they have built their friendship and a sense of comradery between them all through playful banter.
Damien has described their position in the organization as a community manager by saying that they monitor all messages sent through the Discord server, which is the main form of communication for the organization, with over 500 members. Part of this is ensuring that all chat in the server is free from illegal or inappropriate activities, whether it be through messages, pictures, or videos. Damien has also mentioned that they are one of the first two members to hold the position of community managers, since its formation at the start of the year.
There are many things in store for the organization and many ideas from the officers on the direction the organization should go in. Perhaps there may be the day when the hopes of both the head coach and vice-president are realized: when the organization does become included as a varsity sport. There is a bright future ahead for the organization and I certainly hope to see how it can grow.