Accolades and interest exploded in esports
Dallas—Interest in esports competition has grown exponentially at Dallas College. The program began in Fall 2021 with three coaches and 30 students competing in four titles. Today, six coaches lead more than 150 students who compete in more than 11 titles.
All seven campuses began national competition in spring 2022 through the National Junior College Athletic Association Esports (NJCAAE). Founded in 2019, NJCAAE is the only national esports association exclusive to two-year colleges. Currently, 238 teams from community colleges across the United States participate.
Much like other college sports, esports is more than just playing games. Esports lead to meaningful educational opportunities. Participants learn soft skills like team building, communication, time management, organization and problem solving. On the more technical side, students gain skills in strategy, video and IT technology, broadcasting, shoutcasting, tournament setup, marketing and business.
“I watch students go from a little overwhelmed and nervous to flourishing,” said Sky McCort, a coach at Dallas College Richland and El Centro campuses, who has been a part of the Dallas College Esports program since its inception. “Some students come to Dallas College unsure of what they want to study. The fact that they can participate in something they are passionate about is huge.”
Esports lead to greater student engagement, retention and completion.
Taison Proctor, a criminology major at the Richland Campus, competes in Overwatch, a first-person shooter video game where teams vie for various objectives. He joined esports at Dallas College as soon as he found out about it.
“Esports is a lot more than sitting in front of a computer playing video games,” Proctor said. “I’ve heard the comment that it’s not actually a sport, but honestly, it takes just as much skill, practice and training.”
When he graduates this coming spring, Proctor will transfer to University of Texas at Dallas to major in criminology. He plans to try out for their esports team and also participate in their content creator program. Through esports, he and other students may compete for transfer scholarships.
At Dallas College, esports tryouts were held last month at all seven campuses. Students enrolled in at least 12 credit hours at any Dallas College campus, and who maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, are eligible to compete. Students at any gaming level can participate through intramural play, but they must try out to make it onto a team.
An estimated 200 students will take part this year.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” McCort said. “We keep them engaged and train them and try to get them to competition level. They can become involved in clubs, meet other students and play games together.”
Dallas College esports have already won championships and accolades:
2022 NJCAA Fall NBA 2K Open Division Champion (Aahil Ajani, Cedar Valley)
2023 NJCAA FIFA Spring Open Division Champion (Zaid Gutierrez, Mountain View)
2023 Spring Dallas College Coach McCort awarded a NJCAA certificate for going above and beyond in efforts to improve NJCAAE.
“Dallas College athletic director Sadiaa Jones and I are proud to be able to provide nontraditional athletes with another opportunity for student success and engagement. We believe interest in esports will continue to grow among our students,” Krasi Kolarov, director of esports at Dallas College, said.
Campus coaches base the titles offered at each campus on student interest. This year’s titles by campus include:
Brookhaven (Coach Grant Brady): League of Legends, Smash Bros.
Cedar Valley (Coach Marcus Woodard): FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K
Eastfield (Coach Jeremy Stout): League of Legends, Overwatch, Tekken, Valorant
El Centro (Coach Sky McCort): League of Legends, Smash Bros., Tekken, Valorant,
Mountain View (Coach Leoh Padilla): Rocket League, Smash Bros.
North Lake (Coach Brody Rush): Call of Duty, FIFA, Rainbow Six Siege
Richland (Coach Sky McCort): League of Legends, Overwatch, Smash Bros., Valorant.
Esports follow a nine-week regular season and then a couple weeks of playoffs each spring and fall semester. Dallas College students can participate at any campus and in multiple titles. While recruitment takes place year-round, tryouts are held twice a year. To find out more about esports, students can visit: www.dallascollege/esports.
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