BY CJ GIBSON
The FHSU Esports team is providing a scholarship opportunity for freshman and transfer students.
These scholarships are nonrenewable, as they are intended to reward new FHSU students for being involved with the team.
The priority scholarship deadline is Feb. 22. Students who apply after this date, however, could still be eligible to earn scholarships depending on funds available.
The initial scholarship application process does not require any long essay responses or income information. After applying, applicants may be contacted for interviews and/or tryouts.
Interested students can apply for membership and/or scholarships at: https://bit.ly/2XMxo1L
Kevin Shaffer, the advisor for FHSU Esports, is an Informatics faculty member who teaches computer networking and cybersecurity, as well as a new “Game Theory in Practice” elective.
FHSU Esports has a variety of competitive options that could apply to a range of different students.
“It’s kind of like track and field: there are lots of game titles. Somebody’s good at this thing: high jump, or 100-yard dash, or something. Here, somebody’s good at this particular game or somebody else is good at that particular game, so you have lots of different events and lots of small individual groups,” Shaffer said.
The main competitive game titles that FHSU Esports players can compete in are: Call of Duty, Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Rocket League, Smite, Super Smash Bros, Valorant, and World of Warcraft.
“Some game titles are individual, meaning you just play by yourself,” Shaffer said. “But some titles are certainly team titles: there’s strategy, there’s practice, there’s planning, there’s scouting your opponents and all of that. It’s all there.”
However, players can expand this list if tournaments are available for games not listed.
“Players can join the club, and if there’s a varsity tournament somewhere, they can say ‘hey, we want to participate,’ and I’ll say ‘yeah, we don’t have a separate varsity program for that so you are the representative for Fort Hays.’ You can do that,” Shaffer said.
Students who are interested in joining the club but don’t have much experience or skill in competitive gaming can still earn scholarships as club managers.
“Anyone who’s interested in participating, even if you’re not the expert, maybe you just want to be a part of the club and help take care of the club,” Shaffer said. “I’ve got some manager scholarships for that. Anyone can apply.”
Despite restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 preventing the club from meeting in person, they still have regular practices online through a team Discord channel.
“It’s not a 6:00 am weight lifting session, but it is regularly scheduled and team captains are in charge of that,” Shaffer says. Practices usually take place at least three times a week during the evenings.
The FHSU Esports team primarily focuses on PC gaming, and students have to provide their own gaming computer and setup. However, actions have been taken to prepare a game lab in Hammond Hall with gaming PCs that players can use. Shaffer hopes that the lab will be ready by the fall semester.
While the FHSU Esports team attracts mostly STEM majors, students of any majors who are interested in gaming are encouraged to apply.
“They [players] are usually the STEM kind of students. That being said, I have education majors, English majors, psychology majors. I’ve got some computer science majors, I’ve got a biology kid, I have representation from all over campus in the club,” Shaffer said.
Above all, Shaffer is looking for recruits with positive attitudes.
“I guess I look for the same kind of thing in an esports kid as I would in a regular sports kid: dedication and interest, desire to get better, willingness to practice and work hard and be a team player. In other words, willing to work out, and come up with strategies, and plan, and how to adapt to stuff in-game.”
“It might be that they’re not good at a game, but they’re super excited to be in the club and they want to help run the club, so we have manager positions as well,” Shaffer explains, “You don’t have to be the super #1 kid to get a scholarship.”
While there is no official Twitch or YouTube page for FHSU Esports, the FHSU Esports team plans to work closely with Tiger Media Network in the future.
The FHSU Esports team does have a Facebook group where they post updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FHSU.Esports/
Any questions can be directed to Kevin Shaffer at 785-628-4484 or to the Department of Informatics at 785-628-5375.
“These scholarships are not well-known. We’ll be happy to take anyone who wants to apply and talk to them,” Shaffer said.