Esports plays on while staying safe

COVID-19 has impacted a number of sports at West Texas A&M University. Though there have been some adjustments to the way athletics are normally run, students are still able to participate in their athletic events and watch their favorite team of choice. One of these teams is Buff Gaming.

“We have a variety of competitive teams such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege, Call of Duty, Valorant, and more. We also are home to a huge casual gaming community for people who just want a place to meet new people and find other people to play with!” said Cat Giffin, vice president of Buff Gaming and Esports supervisor for WT Recreational Sports.

The esports team isn’t able to do as many in-person meetings and activities but they have been able to connect through online activities.

“We compete on the higher levels against other colleges which include Division 1 schools. We also offer COVID Safe activities for our members in terms of group game nights online, virtual movie nights etc,” said Christopher Strawhacker, president of Buff Gaming and captain of the Rocket League team.

Within Buff Gaming, there are different teams that compete in a number of different games with each team having a captain.

“My responsibilities as a team captain for the Rainbow Six Siege team includes organizing a team so that we can compete in collegiate tournaments for a chance to win big prizes. I organize practice times and coordinate match times with other colleges/universities around the country,” said Colton Reed, team captain of the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege team.

COVID-19 has forced the club to cancel some of their annual events such as their “Gaming for St. Judes” charity event. The esports team also had plans of opening up their new gaming area in the Virgil Henson Activity Center to the WTAMU student body. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they can no longer do so.

“Currently, we are working with WT Rec Sports to open up this room at a limited capacity here in the next couple of weeks,” Giffin said.

Though the teams aren’t able to socialize and practice together in person as much, there is still a large sense of community.

“We have been able to build a bond of trust that extends beyond just the game and into real life, and I love that about this club. Even though we often communicate just through voice chats in games, it hasn’t taken away our ability to build friendships,” said Laura Newman, captain of the Overwatch team.

Despite the fact that Buff Gaming competes, the club is also open for anyone who enjoys playing or wants to learn more about gaming.

“We are not exclusive to competitive gamers either, we fully welcome casual players, anyone interested in learning, or anyone just wanting to meet a bunch of people. Our club has many members already and for anyone looking to make new friends who have similar interests in games, this is the perfect place to find them,” Newman said.

Any Buff interested in gaming or just looking for a community or group to be a part of on campus is encouraged to join Buff Gaming.

“Students can join our club via Buff Links on the WTAMU website or reach out to us via our social media accounts. You can find us on Facebook and Instagram,” Strawhacker said.

Anyone interested in joining Buff Gaming can message the team using this link or follow the team for more information (@WTBuffGaming) on Instagram.

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