While traditional sports have halted during the coronavirus pandemic, students with The University of Alabama Esports Club continue to practice and compete, representing their school in the digital space video games provide.
“We have not slowed down at all,” said Joseph Faletra, a UA junior from Atlanta, Georgia, and president of the Esports Club. “Our teams are still very much active.”
The club began a few years ago and now has close to 250 students participating, with more than 100 of those competing against other universities. The UA Esports club competes in 14 video games with several students per game, said Faletra, who is studying microbiology.
Teams play Overwatch, Fortnite, Rocket League and Call of Duty, among other games, and a few teams have placed high in collegiate tournaments, Faletra said.
“We love representing this university,” he said. “We would love to get support from the huge fan base of our university.”
Brady Repasky, coordinator for UA Esports’ Fortnite team, said collegiate competition is more accessible than professional esports where big money is on the line and players practice continually.
“Most of us just play for fun,” said Repasky, a senior from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, studying biology. “We play for Alabama to represent our school and have a little bit of a rivalry with other schools.”
Faletra said existing athletic rivalries add to the collegiate competition, but esports is more open to schools of all sizes.
Repasky was invited to be on an advisory group for the coming collegiate Fortnite season, helping improve the tournament that began last year. UA’s team finished in the top 35 out of nearly 300 teams, he said.
“I’m sure next season will be much more competitive,” Repasky said.
The club is even attracting the attention of high school students considering the University, and, along with communicating to students on the internet, Faletra said he’s talked with students and parents visiting campus about the club.
Like traditional sports teams, UA Esports players enhance their skills and planning through practices, scrimmages, watching game recordings and small tournaments with other universities.
During the pandemic from the new coronavirus, club members have continued to play together, staying in touch with each other and UA.
“I think esports is going to be much bigger than it is right now,” Repasky said.
To inquire about joining the club or how to watch streams of the games, connect with the club on Twitter, @AlabamaEsports.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.