As esports program gains steam, members hope to grow popularity on campus with new club

As of this Spring semester, the Baldwin Wallace University Esports program has accumulated up to 35 active members and is looking to create an esports club to accommodate more interested students in the near future.  

The BW Esports program initially launced in 2020, but Jake Grasso, BW’s assistant director of esports, has taken the initiative to help revamp it this past fall. Students have been competing in the video games Super Smash Bros., Call of Duty, Overwatch, Rocket League and Valorant.  

Grasso said that the program can strengthen soft skills such as communication, teamwork and critical thinking. He said video games are a common interest among students, and there is a spot for everyone, no matter their skill level.  

“I want them to come to this program and not be the same person they were when they first started four years ago,” Grasso said.  

According to Grasso, the esports program is still young and has the potential to become hugely popular on campus since it can bring together people of different backgrounds through a universal love of video games.  

Grasso also said that a less formal esports club is possibly in the works. Alex Metot, a freshman psychology major on the Valorant team, said she is working with Grasso to make this club a reality.  

“I can’t say what we have planned, but I will say it’s more than just competitive,” Metot said. “There’s Minecraft, there’s Roblox, [and] there’s Jackbox Games. Like once it gets in the works, you’ll see. It’s gonna be awesome.”  

Compared to the  competitive esports program, the esports club will welcome those who do not want to compete, but who just want to play video games with their peers.  

Ben Cuomo, a freshman biology major on the Valorant team, said that he has bonded with football players that live on his floor over their common interest in video games. Cuomo took his love of games to the next level by joining esports.  

“I think that that’s another thing for some people that maybe find it hard to talk to people, or they find it harder to make friends,” Cuomo said. “They can come out to this club, and they get friends that play a common video game with them.”   

Cuomo said that esports is like any other varsity sport in a way, and they dedicate multiple hours a day to practicing new strategies and film review.   

Kyle Covington, a junior public health major on the Valorant team, has recently joined the esports program and touched on the possible negative stigma surrounding gaming.  

“There’s always like this stigma around it,” Covington said. “People think that just because you play video games, it means you’re antisocial.”   

Covington said that from an outsider’s perspective, people who play esports might be considered nerds or people who “don’t go outside enough.” However, he hopes that as the popularity of esports grows, people will realize that just because someone plays video games doesn’t mean that they are considered any of those things.   

“People will hopefully realize just because you play video games doesn’t mean like anything about you other than you play video games,” Covington said.