Esports Team is Preparing Students for Life After College
Former and current students, as well as Director of Esports Kyle Rosen, speak about the role of esports at York College of Pennsylvania.
If you asked York College Director of Esports Kyle Rosen what his goals are for this year, it wouldn’t be placing in the “big 10 of eSports.”
“I think for a lot of programs esports is an escape for the students to get away from their class work. For me, this program is another way that they're going to grow while they're at York College,” he explains.
Rosen has been with the College for just over a year, but he’s been coaching esports for nine years. Previously, he coached for Elizabethtown College and Lebanon Valley College. Additionally, he’s done freelance coaching for both amateur and semi-professional teams.
As Director of Esports, he is responsible for working with The National Association for Collegiate Esports (NACE). He also manages the esports room, located behind Starbucks in Humanities 181, “making sure it looks as good as it can, and doing some actual coaching.” He also coaches the League of Legends team.
Focusing on the opportunities
Rosen’s primary focus is on creating opportunities for students through esports. When students join the team, they have the chance to use the streaming room in the esports area to broadcast their live gameplay on a platform such as Twitch. This allows them to build a following that they can then use in their portfolio.
“Students are going to make friends in the esports program, but how much of it really is contributing to their future?” he asks. “The streaming room is something you can use to build followers. You can create social interaction. You can build things that will allow you to take that, go into the real world and say, ‘I make money off of streaming. I've done this. I've handled interaction.’”
Rosen still values gameplay, however. But he focuses on keeping the team as professional as possible.
“For me, it's all about teaching the players and focusing on them,” he says. “I don't let them be late. You need to be on time. If you're not on time, you're late, and if you're late, you don't get to play.”
He also has students read books about practicing gaming and time management.
“This isn't just a place where you come to play video games. This is another place in the College where you come to learn, you come to grow as a person and as an individual, and I think that makes our program really unique.”
Isaac Yoka, a junior IT Management major, has been competing in esports competitions since he was 13. He’s been playing the League of Legends game for seven years. Having an esports program was an important factor for Isaac in choosing York College.
“I met Nick Nolte ’22, who was working on starting the esports Club here,” Isaac says. “I got to play a big role in starting the Club and creating the teams we have today. Now I am the club president as well as a team captain.”
In his experience, the esports team has been a beneficial program for him.
“The esports room is a place where you can be at peace and have somewhere you can go to decompress and find enjoyment with your teammates and friends,” he explains, “along with also being the place where you work and strive to become better.”
Bringing a lifelong dedication to college
For York College esports founder Nolte, esports was always in the cards, in one capacity or another. After playing video games as a child, Nolte realized he wanted to improve on his playing skills. So, he found a way to bring them to the College.
“After coming to York College and seeing there wasn’t an esports team, I wanted to get one started,” Nolte explains. “I reached out to my bosses in Library and Technology Services (LTS), and they were supportive about bringing esports here.”
His main goal, however, was to help foster a gaming community on campus.
“I think there are a lot of students out there that enjoy gaming and primarily do that as their only activity—this was me when I was in college,” he says. “I think creating an atmosphere to meet new people is what makes college really special, and being able to game and play with other friends makes gaming a much better experience.”
Nolte, who works on campus, still assists with the team today. He has plenty of experience—in 2018, he became a Challenger in League of Legends, a rank only shared by 450 players in the region. He also played on the YCP team.
He considers the connections he’s made through playing esports at YCP invaluable.
“My favorite thing about esports is seeing how many friends people (including myself) have made. A lot of people I met through esports at York College are still some of my closest friends today,” he says. “I also love seeing the competition against other colleges as it's exciting to the watch the competitive drive in players.”
Nolte’s best advice to students who are interested in esports? Don’t be afraid to join.
“When I started college, I was extremely shy and didn't have any opportunities to get involved, but when I founded esports at the College, it opened up so many avenues and friends that I didn't know I had,” he says. “If you have a passion for esports, whether it's competitively or just casually, there's a spot for you.”
If anyone is interested in joining, please join the York College Discord (for students and alumni).