York College of Pennsylvania First-year Student Finds His Escape in Gaming
Roger Casado Sanchez is among the top .05% of League of Legends players in the world. He turned to video games after his sister’s death in 2012.
Rocio Casado Sanchez was the perfect role model. Her brother, Roger, says she was the cheerful one in the family. Rocio found the positives in every situation, despite growing up with little money and some health issues in the Dominican Republic.
When Rocio was young, doctors discovered she had a worrisome tumor. The family stretched their budget as far as they could to get Rocio top-notch care in the United States. Despite their best efforts, Rocio suffered a stroke on the way to treatment and died in February 2012. She was 18 years old.
Roger Casado Sanchez was 10 when his sister died. The effects of her death rippled out into his personal life. He became sullen and isolated. He watched his mother cope with the loss of a child. A bully at school would ask him, “Your sister died. Why are you so sad?”
But when he threw on a pair of headphones and switched on his Game Boy Color, Roger found the relief and escape he needed.
“I had a need, and gaming filled what I was missing,” Roger says. “Gaming is a great outlet and it’s always there for you.”
After his sister died, gaming served as a solo adventure for Roger. He liked single-player Pokémon video games. A few years ago, his cousins introduced him to League of Legends, a computer-based game that features five-on-five team battles. The game has more than 180 million players internationally.
As he began to explore the game, a whole new world opened up for Roger. He found new friends who taught him the ropes of League of Legends. Learning English through the game, he was able to understand YouTube streams and become a better player.
After several years of playing League of Legends, Roger started coming out of his shell. He learned how to speak up about his feelings and to vent when necessary.
“There’s a lot of people that I’ve met who showed me a view of how life can be and the possibilities that I can have,” Roger says.
An extremely rare player
Roger, a first-year student at York College of Pennsylvania, who switched from majoring in Business Administration to Psychology, is a different person than the 10-year-old who would slink off to play his video games. Nowhere is that more evident than in his interaction with the College’s esports team.
“Roger is very energetic,” says Kyle Rosen, York College’s esports coach. “He came into the first practice and told everyone, ‘I want you to hold me accountable. I want to win everything this year.’”
Roger enrolled at York College in January 2022 after speaking with his cousins, both of whom are alumni. A classmate who heard that Roger plays League of Legends introduced him to the esports team.
Roger isn’t any regular player. He’s in the game’s Diamond 3 tier, placing him in the top .05% of the world’s players. That’s the caliber of player schools such as Penn State would chase to have on their team, Rosen says.
“It’s extremely rare to find a player like Roger through someone you know,” Rosen says. “There’s a lot of colleges who don’t have a player of Roger’s caliber.”
Beyond the game
York College's esports team completed its season in March with a 3-3 record, a major accomplishment. Teams must win all six games to get in the conference playoffs.
The team practices in a special facility on the ground floor of the Humanities Building. Roger spends hours playing at the facility each week. It has allowed him to meet people who aren’t team members but are looking to try something new.
“They love spending time playing video games that they can’t play on their home computers,” Roger says. “Video games are so broad nowadays and it’s only growing to be more inclusive.”
What’s special about York College’s team is the focus on education, not only gaming.
“This isn’t a place for students to be bored and not do their homework,” Rosen says. “Students get books to read about psychology and strategy. I don’t know another college trying to intertwine education with their program.”
Gaming provides a chance for Roger to be better in and out of the virtual world. Rosen says Roger is the positive member of the team, trying to be happy and focused on helping others– traits he learned from his sister.
While the United States is far more accepting of gaming culture than the Dominican Republic is, Roger hopes others can see the possibilities.
He says, “It frustrates me that people think gaming makes you a violent person,” he says. “People need to give it a try and see how cool and fun it can be.”