In The Arena

Esports programs growing in universities and colleges.

Shenandoah University

“Give it a chance,” is the advice Dr. Joey Gawrysiak, associate professor of sports management and esports and director of esports at Shenandoah University, gives to parents who don’t understand this booming new entertainment category. Catering to both the competitive and academic side of esports, Shenandoah University in Winchester is leading the way in the arena. As of this fall, it’s the first school in Virginia to have an esports major and the first in the country to have a multi-track major; students majoring in esports can concentrate in esports management or media and communications. Gawrysiak developed the curriculum for the new major, despite the fact that there weren’t many examples to follow. “Nobody’s doing it—let’s see if we can do it,” he says. He also manages the school’s varsity esports team that competes in three different games, with about 30 students participating.

Averett University in Danville received a generous grant from Drs. Frank and Dugan Maddux in May 2018 to expand its esports program. The school hired Oscar Manzano as head esports coach, and the grant will also be used to improve the team’s facility.

Community colleges are joining the esports action as well. Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville received a sponsorship from Mid-Atlantic Broadband that will allow it to create a dedicated area for esports. The school has launched an esports club and plans to have a team that can compete in the National Association of Collegiate Esports in the fall. 

For those who might dismiss esports as a fad, Gawrysiak says, “When you look at what people will do in the future, you look to what kids are doing.” 


For more about Shenandoah University, Averett University, or Patrick Henry Community College, check out Top High Schools and Colleges 2019. This article originally appeared in our October 2019 issue.

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