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IT Management major spearheading new esports club at York College

Nick in front of computer screen

He almost skipped college to go pro—that’s how good Nick Nolte was. He’d practice every day, constantly trying to improve himself. He’d identify weaknesses and work them over and over again until they were strengths. In 2018, he was ranked among the best in the nation.

But, Nick is not your typical athlete. His game of choice is not basketball or football or soccer. It’s League of Legends. Nick is one of a growing number of esports gamers who think of video games as more than just a pastime. And now, he’s spearheading the creation of an esports club and training facility at York College of Pennsylvania.

Taking on the challenge

Nick was in fourth grade when he got his first laptop and was introduced to the game he refers to as simply “League.” It was more complicated and challenging than other games he’d played. That’s what drew him in. “I’ve never been into anything as much as I am with League,” he says.

He’d play with friends for fun, then play by himself so he could pinpoint just what skills he needed to work on to get better. He competed in online tournaments, and in 2018 earned the rank of challenger—a title reserved for the top 450 players in North America.

When Nick chose college over going pro, he thought he’d be happy away from home. But he found himself coming back home to York on the weekends to see his friends and family. After a year and a half of being unhappy, he transferred to York College.

It was weird at first, picking up and moving like that. But things quickly fell into place. “Everybody that I met at York has been extremely nice,” he says. “It just feels more like home. It’s more comfortable.”

The one thing that was missing at York College was an esports program. So, Nick decided to make one.

Growing a community

Nick was pretty sure he wasn’t the only one on campus interested in esports. He made a channel on a gaming chat app to gauge interest and found more than 100 people who wanted to be part of an esports club at York College. The club was approved by student government and a training and gaming facility on campus will be finished by February.

Once organized, the club will be able to play against other teams from other schools. But, the real excitement for Nick comes from the sense of community he’s found. “I think the biggest thing about this is just growing a community that everybody wants to be a part of,” he says.

It gives students like him, who want to be more involved with York College, but don’t know how, an outlet to come together over a common passion. “I have already have made a decent chunk of friends from this group, and it’s only been active for about a month,” he says.

Looking toward the future

The club has only met a handful of times, and already Nick is thinking ahead of how to make it better. He hopes the program eventually gets moved under the athletic department. “If you think chess is a sport,” he says, “you definitely have to think that esports is a sport, too.” Sure, you’re not physically exerting yourself, he says, but you’re thinking constantly and working as a team to complete a task.

As an Information Technology Management major, Nick’s whole world revolves around computers. He’s not sure what he wants to do when he graduates, but it’ll definitely be in the computer realm. His dream job would be to stay at York College, growing its esports program, and coaching others to become the best they can be.

Nick knows there’s lots of future students who are just like him and he wants to help them find their place at York College.