Hastings College adds esports as 24th varsity sport

HASTINGS, Neb. (press release) — After a successful start as a club program in 2021-22, with three of the four teams making the playoffs and one finishing second in its division, Hastings College’s esports team has been elevated to a full varsity sport this fall – the 24th varsity sport on campus.

The Hastings College team grew from 21 participants in Fall 2021 to almost 40 students this year, including eight players who are on esports scholarships. Given the large number of students taking part, the team relocated to a new arena at the on-campus Gray Center, where the number of Lenovo Legion setups more than doubled from 10 to 22 PCs.

“22 setups will help us enable better practices as multiple teams can use the space at the same time,” said head coach Andy Chase. “It also means we can have multiple teams competing at the same time, which allows us to run an overall more efficient program and host tournaments for high school teams.”

Hastings College Esports is also expanding the games it plays for the year, adding League of Legends to its lineup of VALORANT, Rocket League, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and Overwatch. League of Legends will be a practice team in the fall and competitive in the spring of 2023.

The Broncos compete against institutions across North America as part of the National Esports Collegiate Conference (NECC), which has grown significantly from 153 participating colleges and universities last year to 250 this year. It started in autumn 2020 with only 36 participating schools.

“We are thrilled to hear the news of the transition of Hastings’ esports program from a club program to an on-campus college sport,” said Jacob VanRyn, NECC Commissioner. “They are building something special at Hastings and it’s great to see the support from campus leadership.”

The broadcast room for the Broncos’ Twitch channel has moved adjacent to the arena and will offer more creative options for Twitch streams, including the addition of shoutcasters, which are comparable to announcers in a sports broadcast, for some competitions.

“I’m incredibly excited and proud of what we’re building here,” said Chase. “The support throughout the college and community has been heartwarming. We have grown in every way after a great first season and we continue to have high expectations of our team.”

The Broncos intend to become full members of the NECC and sponsor the Nebraska Schools Esports Association (NSeSA). The NSeSA is the high school competition in Nebraska in which 53 high schools participated in the spring.

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