UMD Esports Comes Online
RecWell Program Puts Teams Into Elite Competition
By Liam Farrell
Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
They don’t need helmets or shoulder pads, but the competition has been just as fierce this year for the newest teams wearing Terp colors.
An official esports program has booted up at UMD, with five teams competing in the National Association of Collegiate Esports League under the auspices of University Recreation and Wellness.
UMD already had a robust and successful esports scene through the 1,800 members of the student-born and student-run Gaming Club, but RecWell is now providing official gear, coaching, facilities and even travel funds for the 30 players facing off against other schools for pride and prizes in conference and tournament play. The teams are competing in Fortnite, League of Legends, Rocket League, Valorant and Overwatch, five wildly popular games played by millions worldwide and whose events regularly fill stadiums.
Sergio Brack, the first director of esports at UMD, was named one of EdTech’s 30 Higher Education IT Influencers in 2022. He previously held similar roles at the University of Mississippi and Ottawa University in Kansas. Although esports scholarships are still a work in progress, the program has secured practice space in Ritchie Coliseum and a competition area in Knight Hall where students can spar on the livestreaming service Twitch until an area is refurbished in the former Diner.
Brack says he wants to continue fomenting a sense of community, but it’s also no secret what the teams need to accomplish: “Your esports program is only as good as how much you’ve won.”
Freshman Joshua Klubes, on the Fortnite team, says esports played a role in his college decision process; he was impressed by how Terp teams had performed in past tournaments.
“It’s like having a friend group you can play with all the time, who are at your skill level and can make you better,” he says of esports. “There’s like an adrenaline rush. It’s very similar to hitting a three in basketball.”
For more on how the esports community took off at UMD, revisit the Fall 2021 Terp feature “Pressing Play” at terp.umd.edu/pressing-play.
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