Zach Lewis Tabbed To Coach Limestone's New Esports Program
The inaugural coach has been hired, the scholarship levels are being developed, players are now being recruited, and the uniforms are being designed for Limestone’s newest team.
But you won’t find these Saints athletes on outside playing fields or inside a gymnasium. Instead, they’ll be hunkered down in their own training room – playing video games.
As announced last week, the sport of competitive gaming, otherwise known as esports, is coming to Limestone College this fall.
Zach Lewis, a former esports player and coach at the Oklahoma State University, has been hired to develop and coach Limestone’s new cutting-edge program.
The native of Tulsa will be formally introduced during a press conference and meet-and-greet event on Thursday, March 26, from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. inside the Legacy Lounge at the Timken Center.
“One of the primary things that attracted me to this position was the fact that Limestone was committed to providing the necessary resources to be successful,” said Lewis, who received degrees in Marketing and Entrepreneurship during his time in Stillwater. “In doing so, I expect us to bring some excitement and national recognition to campus, while also providing a notable boost in admissions. We will have some of the finest facilities and equipment in the country, and we will also be able to provide scholarship opportunities for many of our players. The word is already out that Limestone has added an esports team, and we’re getting inquiries from all across the country.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build something from scratch and being entrepreneurial,” he continued. “I look forward to getting behind the wheel and taking charge and doing something special here. What makes this even more exciting is that, because this is not a sport sanctioned by the NCAA, Limestone will be able to compete against any team in the nation – we can compete against teams from Clemson, the University of South Carolina, you name it.”
While exact titles have yet to be confirmed, Lewis said he expects Limestone will compete in tournaments featuring games such as League of Legends, Rainbow 6 Siege, and Rocket League, among others.
Along with competitive varsity squads, Limestone will also offer a recreational gaming club that will have access to the College’s state-of-the-art gaming lab and lounge that will be located inside the Fort Residence Hall. Lewis expects to initially field one-to-three nationally competitive teams, along with two-to-five for intramural club activities. He expects those team numbers to grow rapidly after the first year.
The gaming club will be the branch of the program that will enable any Limestone student to become involved in esports. By offering regular in-house events, meetings, and intramural tournaments, students will be able to enjoy esports and gaming without the stress of varsity competition.
Esports is one of the fastest-growing spectator sports in the world, with over 46 million viewers watching a recent League of Legends global tournament. That surpasses the 31 million who viewed the National Basketball Association Finals, and the 18.9 million that viewed the Major League Baseball World Series.
“One of the misconceptions about esports is that the competitors are not true athletes,” Lewis noted. “That could not be further from the truth. Esports is a cerebral activity, much like chess that can burn up to 6,000 calories on a day of competition. The mind is a weapon in esports, with the best players excelling in sustained attention, short- and long-term planning, working memory, and impulse control. Much like other sports, our battles are competitive, require teamwork, and are a lot of fun for others to watch.”
Limestone’s varsity competitions will be broadcast live on the internet, and Lewis said he also anticipates watch-parties across campus for some of the higher-profile competitions.
“Participating in esports can be a huge benefit for college students after graduation,” Lewis explained. “For the top-level players, professional gaming can be very lucrative. For other players, both competitive and recreational, they are learning skills – such as critical thinking, effective time management, and teamwork – that will benefit them in any career field.”
For more information about Limestone’s esports program, contact Lewis at zwlewis [at] limestone.edu.