‘Feels legit’: UND unveils new esports facility

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 6:16 PM CDT
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Esports are becoming more popular in high schools and colleges across the nation as an avenue for those that don’t fit in the traditional sports mold. The University of North Dakota unveiled their new esports facility, showcasing what it could bring to the campus and community.

“It’s crazy like, we started in a storage closet basically and going to this facility that the university has provided us is insane.” said Michael Herron of UND Varsity Esports.

For many of the student-athletes who are a part of the esports program, they were practicing in a small space provided to them. They never would have imagined their new home on campus, a $1.2 million facility.

“A facility to us kind of feels legit. It’s kind of our own space. Like it’s not just something they set aside for us, it’s something they made for us and it kind of shows that our university cares for us.” said Ethan Taylor who is part of UND Varsity Esports.

This includes numerous computers, a lounge area and even a spot where they can broadcast the games online, with announcers and production included. Which will bring in other degree programs like communications, according to UND.

“Having this insane facility behind me, $1.2 million, absolutely insane. I wish I was a student still so I can be in there but I am just as happy to kind of provide it for those guys.” said UNDVE Head Coach Ryan Kraus.

For some student-athletes within the esports program, it’s not just a place to play games. While they may not fit the mold of traditional sports, it’s a place for all walks of life. Even for those with ADHD and autism.

“Everybody is able to do it, especially with ADHD and autism, I think it’s fantastic that this new thing erupted and it is doing so well and so that everybody can be involved.” said Herron.

According to Tiffany Schroeer, the executive director of Empowering Kids, esports serves as a way to encourage neurodiversity. She was in Grand Forks, ND, as part of an esports tournament that was taking place at the Alerus Center. Schroeer said it was special to see the student-athletes walk across the stage and be celebrated.

“There’s still a long way to go in supporting and understanding neurodiversity. It’s really impactful to see the difference you can make in small communities in North Dakota and bring something like this to a lot of different people.” said Schroeer.

UND offers and esports college degree as well. The esports they offer are: League of Legends, Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, Rocket League, Overwatch 2, Call of Duty and Smash Ultimate.

For more on the UND esports program, click here.