By the Office of Communications and Marketing
ADA - Ohio Northern University's long history of athletic prowess is about to enter a whole new era. Esports is the newest, fastest-growing trend to hit collegiate athletics, and ONU is excited to announce it will launch an official varsity esports team in fall semester 2019.
Esports, short for electronic sports, is competitive video gaming at the highest skill level and has become something of a world-wide phenomenon in the last decade or so, with professional gamers from across the globe competing for championships and prizes. It's only been in the last few years that esports started to take hold in colleges and universities. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the official governing body for collegiate esports, of which Ohio Northern is a member institution, formed in 2016 with only seven members. Since then, that number has grown to 80-plus member institutions and is continually on the rise.
"There is certainly a demand for esports among prospective students. In fact, there is evidence that it can be an important factor in where a student ultimately attends," says Dr. Maria Cronley, University Provost. "We are very excited to be at the leading edge of intercollegiate esports and to be able to offer this experience to future students."
The Ohio Northern esports team will be housed under the Department of Athletics, but most of the details are still in the works. What is known for sure is that ONU esports will provide a fun, competitive outlet for current and future students to get involved in something they're passionate about.
"It is exciting to enter the esports world at Ohio Northern," says Tom Simmons, BSBA '85, BA '86, director of athletics for ONU. "The next generation of students is very active in gaming, and we intend to offer a competitive program that will be both challenging and successful."
The ONU Polar Bears compete successfully at the NCAA Division III level in 23 varsity sports as part of the highly respected Ohio Athletic Conference. ONU has 12 men's teams (baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track, and wrestling) and 11 women's teams (basketball, cross-country, fast-pitch softball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track, and volleyball).