The ‘Wonder Woman’ of WT Esports: Catherine Giffin

West Texas A&M University provides recreational sports for students during the academic year, which includes Esports. Catherine Giffin, a senior and strategic communication major, runs the Esports organization on campus. She is also the Esport supervisor for WT Recreational Sports at the Virgil Henson Activities Center.

Giffin grew up in Newburgh, IN and moved to San Antonio, TX after 11 years where her mother lived. Giffin came to WT after falling in love with the campus on a prior visit.

“I have always been into video games as a kid. My brother and sister were always involved in some kind of sports,” Giffin said. “My sister could dance and my brother did track and taekwondo. I was always at home either playing video games or reading a book.”

Aside from the many opportunities video games provide, Giffin is most excited about how she’s met a lot of her friends through video games, including her boyfriend of nearly four years.

In her freshman year, she was part of a group called Buff Gaming, a subsidiary of the Tech Club. Buff Gaming, after expanding, separated from Tech Club and needed officers to run the now independent organization.

“In 2019, the then president had graduated, so my friend Chris became the president and I was the vice president,” Giffin said. In September or October of 2020, Rec Sports started creating a position for there to be a leader for that program, so I took on those roles to be managing the game room, the teams, and the practice schedules and everything else.”

Just like any leader, Giffin has faced her own share of difficulties.

“Rec Sports made this position without them knowing about Esports,” Giffin said. “They brought Chris in to teach them, so it’s basically been a learning on the job for them and teaching them what needs to be done, but it has also helped us manage the program in our own way and to make it the best it has ever been.”

Giffin graduates in the spring and feels positive about leaving Esports in the hands of people she trusts can hold that fort and maintain the level Esports has reached at WT.

Giffin is intent on attending a graduate program in Houston, and is waiting to hear back from schools where she has already applied to management and leadership programs. With this degree, Giffin’s goal is to work on diversity management with technology in Esports.

“Just because there is a lack of women in that field, I want to make women more comfortable and make them feel more invited to join,” Giffin said. “Different gaming companies have had lawsuits about discrimination and sexual assault against women and that is very sad to hear.”

On combining academics and running Esports, Giffin tries to maintain a good balance between both. She is also responsible for the players’ academic and practice schedules. Working around everyone’s schedules helps the team get together and do what has to be done. Grade checks are done for leagues the individual players are enrolled in.

Like many others, Giffin says it is okay to like other sports aside from football.

“There is some sort of argument people make about ‘why would you want to watch video games?’ and ‘why do you watch football?’” Giffin said. “For me, it’s the same thing. Either way, you’re watching people run across a field or people get a bunch of kills on a video game. It’s all the same kind of concept.”

Giffin has a dog called Popeye, whom she rescued in May of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Giffin encourages all women out there who love Esports to not give up because, whatever they believe, they can achieve.

“I have been working with other schools across Texas to create a state conference and we had our first league cup a couple weeks ago,” Giffin said. “We had 12 different schools compete and we had up to 100 viewers. There was a $2,000 prize for the winner and the University of Texas came out on top. I hope that we can continue to have these statewide Texas conferences like the football conferences.”

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