DANBURY, CT – Before he captained the Siena College esports League of Legends team, Siena junior Joel Madru was an accomplished high school athlete at Chicopee Comprehensive High School in Massachusetts, playing in the #1 spot on the golf team and pitching for the baseball team. Although he performed in many highly competitive sporting events during those high school years, the energy and the adrenaline rush he got from competing in the ECAC Esports Championship last year in Albany and the Capital Center exceeded anything he had ever experienced in athletics. He says that, during one of those championship matches, the moment the character he was controlling in the game died, he looked down and saw that his hands were visibly shaking. That feeling, he said, “was nothing like anything he had ever felt participating in athletics events. “There is less room for error with esports,” he says,” than in baseball when you have a bad inning or golf with a bad hole.”
Additionally, he likens the camaraderie of being on an esports team to the feeling of being on an athletics team. “Your teammates are all there to pick you up,” he says, “not to put you down.” He added that the need for an esports team to bond with one another and develop a sense of chemistry and cohesion is just as strong as it is in athletics.
When Madru read last year in the Siena College Daily Digest that League of Legends players were wanted to compete for Siena in the in-person tournament in Albany, he jumped at the chance. He was one of the first to sign up, and has played an instrumental role since that time in the development of the program. “He is really so much more than just a player,” said Dennis Bates, Siena’s Associate Athletic Director overseeing esports. “He is a player-manager.” He recruits additional players to try out, organizes practices, played a role in expanding the program into new gaming platforms, and serves as a voice for the students. He has also helped to attract some recent media attention to the program.
Like many schools, Siena is beginning to use esports to help attract new students to the College. Joel and some teammates set up a table at “open house” events Siena hosts for prospective students. He enjoys speaking to interested high school students and their parents about the esports program, and sees it as a real selling point. He is happy to articulate to the parents how participation in esports can help new freshman immediately develop friendships and a new community in college. He adds a caution to parents not to restrict their kids’ passion for esports, particularly now with the benefits and opportunities becoming more real every year.
Joel laughs when he looks back at all the activity in esports on campus since that first announcement in the Daily Digest. “They didn’t exactly know just what they were getting themselves into,” he says. What they clearly know now, however, is just how fortunate they were to have Joel Madru answer the Daily Digest announcement.
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ABOUT THE ECAC
Established in 1938, the ECAC is the nation’s largest Conference, ranging in location from Maine to Georgia, and westerly to Missouri. The ECAC hosts numerous championships in men’s and women’s sports across Divisions I, II and III, offering opportunities for thousands of student-athletes. For more information, visit www.ecacsports.com.