Garden City Community College Esports Team Starts off Strong in Inaugural Season

Garden City Community College has joined the ranks of 29 other two-years schools across the country to host its very own esports team.

Broncbuster esports – led by GCCC’s David Larsen from the Information Technology Department – has already boasted a handful of wins in its first week of competition, which began at the start of October.

With four official team members and an opportunity to continue growing the team in the spring season, Larsen said interest in the now National Junior College Athletic Association-sanctioned program is spreading across campus.

“There’s been a lot of interest in participating, and even a couple of people interested in how they can watch the games,” he said. “We’re currently talking to the NJCAA to see if we can stream the games, and hopefully that’ll be in the works.”

The popularity of esports – where individuals or teams compete against one another in video games – has been growing at the collegiate level since at least 2016, according to the National Association for Collegiate Esports.

The NACE, which boasts over 94% of all varsity esports programs in the U.S., estimates that over 5,000 student athletes earn about $16 million is esports scholarships at more than 170-member schools.

Riding on a national trend, the opportunity to build a program at GCCC is a phenomenal and exciting opportunity, according to Larsen. Based on the current NJCAA esports rulebook, any student can now compete from anywhere, including online or off campus.

“If a kid wants to play, they can play from their dorm room or their home,” Larsen said. “If an online student who lives in Cimarron wanted to be part of the team and got into it, they could.”

As of September, the NJCAA announced the creation of an esports association that will be providing two-year colleges like GCCC with governance, competition, and national championships. The association also intends to provide guidance and positive development for two-year colleges to build and operate their esports programs.

“The growth trend of the esports industry has given NJCAA member colleges a remarkable opportunity to create and manage programs, increase enrollment and retention and make a greater positive impact in their communities,” said Dr. Christopher Parker, President and CEO of the NJCAA in a release. “The NJCAA, with our partners Legacy Esports and EsportsU, is excited to embark on this historic endeavor to benefit two-year higher education.”

This season’s NJCAA esports games include Madden NFL 19 on PS4 which is a one-on-one competition; Rocket League on PC which is three vs. three; and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, on Nintendo Switch, which is also one-on-one. An official spring esports season calendar is in the works, but games are still to be determined, according to the NJCAA.

While there is no limit to the roster of students who want to be involved in esports at this time, students with better rankings in particular games, the skills to compete, or the grades to play may be prioritized for competition play over others, Larsen said. While there are physical aspects to competition-level play, mental acuity is key, he added.

“Even today a lot of people don’t consider cheerleading a sport. In reality there’s a lot of injuries in cheerleading. It’s a sport, just a different type,” said Larsen. “A lot of people would or wouldn’t say chess is a sport – it is. It’s a mental game. In esports, you have to have the precision and the reaction time, but mostly it’s a lot of mental work.”

The GCCC esports team’s official roster includes Davon Beach-Mayes and Kristopher Henderson, both of Garden City, and Max Giesaking and Darwyn Maxwell, both of Ulysses.

Student gamers who are interested in participating can contact Larsen at 620-275-3230 or david.larsen@gcccks.edu.

Garden City Community College exists to produce positive contributors to the economic and social well-being of society.