University of Nebraska at Kearney Joins Competitive Gaming Conference

March 12, 2021, 8:01 a.m. ·

Photo by Soumil Kumar from Pexels

You’ve heard of the Cornhuskers and the Creighton Bluejays, but now, you might also want to start paying attention to the UNK Lopers.

This month, the University of Nebraska at Kearney Lopers officially joined the National Esports Collegiate Conference, an organization that hosts collegiate video-game competitions across North America.

David Roberts is the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at UNK and believes joining the conference has multiple benefits, such as increased engagement with a growing, competitive collegiate community.

“Whether that's a college in the Midwest, on the East Coast, the West Coast, really, it opens up those connections that we may not otherwise have,” said Roberts.

There’s the publicity.

“Our games may be streamed depending on feature matches and that kind of thing,” said Roberts.

The NECC began hosting games in 2020 and already has 89 registered organizations including large universities, like the University of Alabama and the University of Montana.

The NECC Twitch streaming channel has about 3,000 followers.

The chance to compete on a collegiate level definitely caught the attention of UNK Junior Juan Torres.

Torres is interested in joining the Loper’s rocket league videogame team.

“Just the thought of being able to be part of something that could develop into something much bigger, that was super interesting to me,” said Torres.

He thinks collegiate esports has the potential to expand dramatically in the coming years and the university was wise to notice the trend.

“Down the road for future students, they're going to see things like that that aren't really offered at too many other schools right now, and I think that's really going to be a big attraction for them.”

While noting the collegiate esports community is still in its infancy, especially at the university (they are still recruiting for the fall season), Assistant Dean Roberts, sees a bright future in esports at UNK, including the potential construction of a dedicated esports arena.

"It’s a goal of ours,” said Roberts.