Columbia president leads the charge for esports

1 year 4 months 2 weeks ago Sunday, March 04 2018 Mar 4, 2018 Sunday, March 04, 2018 6:00:00 PM CST March 04, 2018 in Sports
By: Matt Vereen, KOMU 8 Sports Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - In 2015, Columbia College launched one of the nation’s first collegiate scholarship esports programs. Now, there are 40 similar programs nationwide. Even with the expansion, Columbia finds itself amongst the best thanks to the continued support of the school’s President.

Two years before the program launched at Columbia College, the school inducted Dr. Scott Dalrymple as its 17th President. Dalrymple, however, decided to celebrate his induction with something no college president had ever done: a video game tournament.

“I said if you can beat me in Madden NFL, I'll buy your textbooks for a year,” Dalrymple said. “We had a big tournament. Of course, the funny thing was I wasn't any good. I'd actually never played Madden NFL.”

Columbia College was forced to cap the number of entrants for the tournament due to the excited response. While Dalrymple loved the excitement, the result was bittersweet. He lost the challenge and made good on his promise.

The real result of the tournament, however, was more than free textbooks. Dalrymple had uncovered a passion at his new school. He started to look into how to channel this love of video games and quickly came across a growing trend.”

"We started to hear about esports and this new thing,” Dalrymple said. “We started to look into it, what is it? Is it something we could do at a high level, and we decided yeah we think we can. It was something that, frankly, I decided I wanted to do but I didn't know how to do it.”

While Dalrymple pushed for the new program, not everyone else was as passionate for the idea.

“The entire community was not strong for this idea,” Dalrymple said. “There was definitely some eye-rolling going on both in the community and I think sometimes on campus."

Despite the pushback, Dalrymple began to build the program and prospective students began to take notice.

"My dad actually told me about this program here,” sophomore esports athlete Jonathan Song said. “He was like, 'Oh, John, you play League of Legends. This college is giving out scholarships for the game that you play. Why don't you check it out?’”

"When I was in high school, I was thinking more of basketball and other sports,” sophomore esports athlete Dean Wood said. “I just kind of played video games on the side. It was probably my senior year I found out collegiate esports started to be a thing."

When it comes to who helped build the program, the players are very aware of how much Dr. Dalrymple did to make the esports team a reality.

"He's the one who, when I first toured at Columbia College, showed me his office,” Song said. “Without him we couldn't do anything. I love having him on board."

What separates Columbia from many competing programs is the school’s willingness to treat the program just like any other sport.

"At Columbia College, it feels like there's a much greater drive to integrate within athletics and the athletic department in terms of our esports team,” Team Strategic Analyst Drake Porter said. “Basically, we just get the same resources they do. We're held to the same expectations they are. It forces us to be a bit more serious and focused and disciplined in that way."

Dalrymple says this new publicity has done wonders for Columbia College.

"I think most people would agree it's been a good move for us,” he said. “It's gotten us a great deal of attention. More importantly, it's brought some diversity in students. We have students that come here from all over the country who wouldn't have been here otherwise. I think that it adds to the coolness factor of being on this campus."

While many still doubt the power of esports, Dalrymple contends it has the same impact at his school as other popular sports across the country.

"I think esports has really helped our overall image,” he said. “I think it's a halo effect. I equate it to football at Mizzou. The vast number of students who go Mizzou are never going to play football. They know they can't play football, but they like being around it. It's something neat to be a part of if only by extension. I think that's what esports is becoming for us."

Now, Dalrymple and the school are looking to build on the success the eports team has had.

"We're considering the possibility of adding more games to our repertoire,” he said. “We're not going to do it right away. We want to do things well.”

For now, the school is focusing its work in community outreach to show fans and prospective students alike the power of esports.

“One of the things we did last year, in April, we started the 'Midwest Campus Clash’ which was, as far as we know, the biggest gaming event in the entire Midwest,” Dalrymple said. “We had a big turnout.”

This year the school is planning on making it even bigger.

“We're going to have really neat virtual reality experiences,” he said. “We're going to have my favorite: ridiculously huge Donkey Kong. We're going to once again have major tournaments with at least a $25,000 prize pool this year. It's just a great time for the whole family."

This year’s “Midwest Campus Clash” is set for April 7th starting at 10 a.m. and the school is expecting at least two or three thousand to attend.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA — A Rolla man was sentenced to life in prison Friday for a 2017 shooting that killed two people.... More >>
9 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 7:45:00 PM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
HOLTS SUMMIT - Police found explosives and an unknown substance in the back of a stolen van on Friday. ... More >>
9 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 7:29:00 PM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - With excessive heat fixed over Mid-Missouri, senior citizens looked for a place to escape the heat on Friday.... More >>
15 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 1:45:00 PM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Show-Me State games kicked off Friday morning at 11 AM with a Torch Run at the... More >>
15 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 1:44:00 PM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Police arrested a man Thursday night after he allegedly went into a woman's apartment and sexually abused her.... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 9:06:01 AM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors filed reckless homicide charges on Thursday against a Missouri semi driver for a highway construction zone... More >>
20 hours ago Friday, July 19 2019 Jul 19, 2019 Friday, July 19, 2019 8:12:49 AM CDT July 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — A Versailles man previously convicted of child molestation has been charged with possession of and promoting child pornography.... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 7:47:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
INDIANAPOLIS - The NCAA heard Missouri's appeal on Thursday after the school was handed a handful of penalties back in... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 6:49:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in Top Stories
BRANSON - One year ago Friday, 17 were killed when a duck boat sank during a thunderstorm on Table Rock... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 5:01:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors filed reckless homicide charges on Thursday against a Missouri semi driver for a highway construction zone... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 4:09:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The new AI face editing app FaceApp has become an instant hit with iPhone users. However, there are... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 3:45:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - An excessive heat warning is still in effect through Saturday and families should take precautions when playing on... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 1:55:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY- Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick announced Thursday the creation of a new program to help small businesses and farmers after... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 12:37:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The 35th anniversary of the annual Show-Me State Games kicks off Friday. Director, Dave Fox, said the... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 12:31:00 PM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats approved legislation Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 11:38:19 AM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Cooling centers are opening around Missouri as high temperatures and humidity create dangerous conditions. The... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 11:22:02 AM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - State Auditor Nicole Galloway released her audit of the Lieutenant Governor's office while now-Governor Mike Parson was... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 10:43:00 AM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Police Department is asking the public to help identify three individuals. Officers believe... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, July 18 2019 Jul 18, 2019 Thursday, July 18, 2019 10:15:00 AM CDT July 18, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 76°
5am 78°
6am 78°
7am 77°
8am 82°