Robby Helbringer, a senior from Clarence Center, competes in Niagara University’s inaugural Esports tournament as members of the Esports club and other students watch.

Niagara University students have a new way to engage with one another while developing strategic thinking, teamwork, collaboration, and goal setting skills—Esports. The competitive form of computer gaming is fast-growing on college campuses nationwide, with more than 100 institutions currently participating.

“Niagara University will benefit greatly from its newly developed Esports club,” said Jason Jakubowski, Niagara University dean of student affairs. “It is critically important that we further support this initiative to meet the market demand for this type of student engagement opportunity. The students who are currently involved in this club are empowered by our Office of Campus Activities to challenge one another in a healthy, competitive atmosphere that is built around teamwork.”

Officially recognized in October, the club held its inaugural event, an NHL 19 game tournament, on Feb. 20 in the university’s Gallagher Center. Presented by the Esports club and Pegula Sports & Entertainment, a visit from Buffalo Sabres mascot Sabretooth highlighted the event.

“Niagara University is excited to be nurturing and supporting our growing Esports club,” said Christopher Sheffield, associate vice president for student affairs and institutional effectiveness. “Far from the misperception of gaming as an individual and isolating activity, organized Esports promote social interaction, teamwork, communication skills, leadership, and engagement in the vibrancy of campus life.”

Future plans for the Esports club include joining the ECAC Fall Esports League so that members can play other institutions in the northeast in multiple titles, and to dedicate a physical space on campus for the club to allow members access to the technology they need to compete while enhancing their visibility within the student body.

“The Esports landscape has been developing at a rapid pace globally, and its impact on college campuses is undeniable,” said Simon Gray, director of athletics. “I am proud that Niagara University’s Esports efforts are student-led, and that a collaboration between Student Affairs, Information Technology, NUSGA, and Division I Athletics is bolstering the initiative. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and its members are fully entrenched in Esports because of its ability to attract and engage students. I expect the popularity of Niagara Esports to grow exponentially in short order.”

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