Bismarck State College announced the athletic department is adding electronic sports, or as it is more commonly referred to eSports. I spoke KX Sports spoke with athletic director Buster Gillis about what this decision means.
Buster Gillis will readily admit he is not the most knowledgable when it comes to eSports, but he sees the opportunity this presents for current and future students.
“Gaming kept coming up as one of those sports that are fast-growing,” Gillis said. “So we were looking to enhance our enrollment at the school.”
The idea started while Buster attended the National Junior College Athletic Association meetings in Richmond, Virginia.
“After they asked for a show of hands of the number of schools that were already doing this,” Gillis said, “it was alarming. Then they asked how many people were going to add it and all the people that raised their hands it was like, ‘Wow, we better jump on this.'”
Buster said the overwhelming response led him to talk to BSC President Larry Skogen about the opportunity.
“Of course he was all on board because it’s all technology,” Gillis said. “He’s the king of innovation and technology. That was kind of an easy sell to him.”
After that meeting, Buster met with the University of Jamestown, the only college in the state to offer eSports.
“No. 1 was the setup,” Gillis said. “We learned about how they went about developing their team. How they went out and recruited 30 pretty good gamers already.”
BSC will offer 50, $1,000 scholarship to potential students. Buster said the goal is to increase enrollment at the university.
“We might have a team of 20,” Gillis said. “We might have three teams of 20. We just don’t know where it’s going to lead right now.”
While there are no current players on the team, BSC has found a head coach: Casey Mischel.
“They were telling us that he was looking at possibly coaching at Jamestown,” Gillis said. “They were looking for a new coach. With him living in Mandan, it was going to be difficult unless he moved there.”
The team will compete in the newly formed NJCAA eSports division, which will allow them to compete for a national title.
“We’re looking at it to run the school year,” Gillis said. “So September to April. What I’ve been told with the NJCAA roll out is that they are going to have a fall national championship with a certain number of sports and in the spring they’ll have some championships.”
Team members can expect to play competitive matches in the fall. BSC also plans host matches.
“Over at the Bavendick,” Gillis said. “There are four big screens there. So what we would do is put a stage each side with two screens and they would go against each other live.”
To apply to be on the Mystics Esports team go here.