ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS (July 23, 2021) — Augustana College will add varsity e-sports to its sports line-up. Launching in the fall of 2022, e-sports is the twenty-ninth varsity sport and the first all-gender varsity athletic team at Augustana.

“Our club program has thrived for the last four years,” said Dr Wes Brooks, dean of students. “We knew expanding that program and taking it to the next level would support the goals of the athletic program and co-curricular offerings at Augustana.”

Pew Research Center suggests that 72% of high-school students play video games. High School Esports League is the largest and longest-operating competitive-gaming organization serving high-school students and educators, with 2,100+ partnered schools across the United States and Canada, with more than 60,000 students.

The Augustana team will fill the varsity roster for select games: Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League, Madden, NBA2K, FIFA, and Sim Racing.

Joe Loomis, former head coach of esports at Carroll University, will lead Augustana’s program.

Augustana Esports will create a value-driven, student-centered community dedicated to enriching student life on campus while creating a holistic approach to gaming-culture and e-sports-competition,” Coach Loomis said.

Coach Loomis serves on the advisory council for eClusion, a non-profit organization dedicated to inclusion and accessibility in gaming, and serves as a consultant and event-organizer for the MKE Esports Alliance.

“Augustana has created a strong foundation of support for the e-sports program,” Coach Loomis said.  “From the first day I stepped on the campus providing the resources needed to not only create a program that will foster success inside the classroom, but in the e-sports lab, and after they graduate.”

The Vikings will compete against e-sports-teams from colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada during regular season and title championships.

Along with recruiting, training, and broadcasting for Augustana e-sports, Coach Loomis will oversee Augustana’s new e-sports center and recreational leagues. He is a member of the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors.

“The support and excitement from the campus community has been fantastic as we begin planning for our fall 2022 launch,” Coach Loomis said. “I am excited to lead Augie Esports into its next phase as we build both competitive and recreational esports opportunities and open a dedicated gaming facility."

Known for sparking passionate curiosity, Augustana College is an empowering home to explore over 90 areas of study. Augustana’s innovative program, Augie Choice, transforms students into global citizens, thinkers, and doers with a $2,000 grant to explore the world, complete an internship, or conduct research with a professor. Augustana students achieve a balance inside and outside of the classroom; ranking top ten in all divisions for Academic All Americans. Transformed to be different, current students and alumni include health-care heroes, Nobel Prize-winners, CEOs, college presidents, and leaders across all continents. The college enrolls 2,500 curious changemakers who get energized by four years as part of a community that reflects the diversity of the United States.

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