Centralia College Enters a New Arena

Where can you competitively fight, shoot and race – all in one place? Centralia College’s new esports arena in the TransAlta Commons. Under the direction of Coach Jacob Beach, the school’s new esports team is poised to make its mark. In fact, it already has.

The team celebrated a third place finish at the CSL Smash Ultimate Qualifier in Seattle on Feb. 23, which pitted them against much larger, four-year universities.

EsportsPractice1-Spring4
Coach Jacob Beach at a recent practice

“This ranks as a great achievement for us,” Beach said. “We put the team together in one week, and only had one more week to fully prepare for the event. Our players worked hard and put up a result to be proud of.”

This initial success is great news for Centralia College, which has taken the lead statewide in esports. Centralia College’s team was the first official collegiate team in the state and, this fall, it will be the first college to offer scholarships to esports student-athletes. The concept was conceived by Robert Cox, vice president of Student Services, Shelley Bannish, director of Student Life and Involvement, and Sam Small, director of Information Technology.

“Their excitement for this program – not even really understanding esports yet – blew me away,” Beach said. “I thought, if they’re this excited, we can make something really cool up there.”

The team currently has around 20 rostered players who practice League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate at the esports arena in room 339 in the TransAlta Commons.

“Our PC rigs hold GTX1060 Graphics cards, i5-8600k processors, and have 144hz Dell gaming monitors,” Beach said. “We also have six console set-ups for Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Xbox One.”

EsportsPractice1-Spring5Beach and the Centralia College esports team plan to host a series of summer camps to teach kids of all ages about competitive gaming. This may just sound like fun, but he emphasizes that competitive gaming is much different than playing around on a home Xbox.

“If they want to take this seriously, they need to change their mindset,” Beach said. “Competitive gaming is different from playing a game, just like professional baseball is different than playing stickball in the park with a whiffle ball. You do drills, learn how to compete and how to approach skills differently.”

Campers will train under a professional coach and Centralia College esports student-athletes. They’ll teach campers the ins and outs of various games, and help them shift to an esports mindset. They’ll also learn how to manage stress and frustration.

“I’ll also show them my own play, as a coach and top level player, showing that I make mistakes too,” he said. “We’ll do some low stress drills and get them back into the training focus instead of the playing focus. You want to change the mindset and play with a purpose. Have a goal.”

Beach’s goal is to build excitement for esports, cultivate skill and help players earn college scholarships. Ultimately, esports can propel students through college and into a good career. Positions include esports writers, players, managers, coaches, analysts, event coordinators, web developers, and social media managers. And Beach said, “Esports-themed bars and restaurants are popping up all over – including one in the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas – looking for bar managers and events coordinators.”

Watch Centralia College’s esports team

“We will be actively streaming content on the channel, including tournaments and practices,” Beach said. “We are excited to start streaming our activity.

For more information on the team and esports summer camps, contact Jacob Beach at jacob.beach@centralia.edu.

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