St. Lawrence University Athletics Adds Esports as a Varsity Team

St. Lawrence University’s Department of Athletics and Recreation is happy to announce the immediate addition of esports as a competitive varsity program. Esports, which is a form of sport competition using video games, becomes the 35th current varsity sport offered at St. Lawrence.

With an audience of nearly 500 million viewers worldwide, esports has seen significant growth in recent years, and St. Lawrence has seen increased interest from current and prospective students. This led to piloting two student teams during the spring of 2020 that participated in scrimmages against established varsity programs from across the country. The team also participated in two summer collegiate showcase tournaments in preparation for fall competition.

We're excited to cheer on the Saints in a whole new arena! (Video by Suzanne Rickard '22 and Paul Frederick)

“The opportunities to develop teamwork and leadership skills while participating in esports are very similar to other athletic teams,” said Director of Athletics and Recreation Bob Durocher. “I am proud that the University was able to respond quickly to the changing interests of our students by adding this popular sport to the Saints Athletics offerings.”

In what will be the team’s inaugural varsity year, two full competitive teams in the Overwatch (Fall 2020) and League of Legends (Spring 2021) titles have already been successfully recruited and trained. Competitions will be streamed on the University’s Twitch channel, a popular online service used to watch and stream digital video broadcasts.

The University has joined the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) esports. NACE formed in 2016 and serves as the largest governing body of intercollegiate esports in the country. NACE currently accounts for more than 90 percent of intercollegiate programs in the country with 170-member institutions across the United States.

St. Lawrence administrators Kyle Jicha and Eric Shinnick, who have been advising the pilot program, will serve as coaches during the inaugural season.