Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is unveiling its newest student team to compete against teams from universities across the country, but the competitions will not be taking place on a court or field. USF is launching a new esports team for students interested in pursuing their interest in online games.

“Some people think students playing esports are just sitting around playing video games,” said USF’s team director Steve Wettergren. “These sports require real skills, including teamwork, leadership, communication, strategy development, critical thinking and creativity. These skills extend beyond just the game environment. They are the same skills required for success in college and beyond.”

Wettergren added that the emergence of esports has drawn a high level of interest from colleges and universities.

“Esports have exploded in popularity and audience growth. Televised events and streamed competitions have increased the expectation and demand that colleges and universities recognize this as a serious competitive opportunity, While competitive like more traditional athletics, esports can create a more inclusive environment that breaks down barriers for many students,” Wettergren said.

Students coming to USF can join the team, which will be housed in a newly-designed space on campus equipped with high-speed gaming systems. In fact, Wettergren is already actively recruiting for students to join USF this fall.

“We are looking for competitive players who can help us establish the Saints as a leader in the gaming community,” he said.

Eric Wignall, USF Vice President of Admissions, Enrollment Services and Marketing, added that the addition of an eSports team creates new opportunities for the university.

“The St. Francis esports team opens up recruiting opportunities for students throughout Illinois and across the Midwest. These students are passionate and serious learners. They often are interested in technology and computer programs but we are seeing interest across USF’s academic program mix,” said Wignall.

“We are looking to join one of the growing esports associations to find opportunities for inter-university competition. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) offer support for schools as they build programs and USF will be joining one of these organizations. NACE offers nine competitive gaming titles, supports university planning to grow programs, and NAIA is one of the competitive athletic organizations of which USF is already a member,” Wignall said.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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