As the workplace and education space go digital and athletic competitions are canceled as a result of the coronavirus, colleges with Esports teams can still compete and experience success. Baker University's Esports team is a perfect example. The Wildcats placed first in the Heart of America Athletic Conference in Fortnite and took fourth in the nation in the playoffs in their rookie year.
"I am proud of the players and their accomplishments in their first season, said Esports Coach Toby Ebel. "They are great student-athletes who are committed to their sport. They have worked hard and competed well against premier teams."
Despite social distancing restrictions placed on traditional athletic practices and competitions, Baker's Esports athletes continue to practice online with each other from their respective homes around the country and compete online in the few competitions still running.
"A number of students have started independent competitions just to keep their skills up, because we know this is going to come to an end someday and we're going to get back into the classroom, back into the arena," Ebel said.
The Wildcats will host the first Sunflower State Games Esports competition on July 11, 2020. Top Kansas players will compete at the Baker University Esports Arena in Baldwin City, Kansas.
Baker University is part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), becoming the eighth school in Kansas to join the organization. Other schools in the state are Kansas Wesleyan University, McPherson College, University of Saint Mary, Pratt Community College, Wichita State University, Central Christian College of Kansas and Ottawa University.
Baker is the sixth school in the Heart of America Athletic Conference to add Esports, joining Central Methodist University, Clarke University, Culver-Stockton College, Grand View University and Missouri Valley College.
"Baker University Athletics is very proud of the way that the Esports team has established itself as one of the top teams in the Heart of America," said Athletic Director Nate Houser. "This new program continues to move Baker forward and will welcome more students interested in computer science, data analytics and business, among several other disciplines, into our university."
The Wildcats competed in eight different titles in their inaugural season. Titles that NACE offers are Fortnite, Rocket League and Apex Legends.
About Baker University - Founded in 1858 as the first university in Kansas, Baker is a private institution that educates traditional and nontraditional students through small classes, innovative instructors, and rigorous course work. Fortune 500 CEOs, New York Times best-selling authors, and Super Bowl champions all proudly claim Baker as their alma mater. The university is home to four schools: College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, School of Education, and School of Professional and Graduate Studies. Baker offers undergraduate through doctoral programs. Learn more: bakerU.edu.