ONU’s Esports program teaches teamwork, life skills


ADA — Teamwork, communication and competition are skills students enrolled in Ohio Northern University’s Esports program are gaining before they enter the workforce.

The university launched the program last fall that has 22 students participating with two teams. An Esports arena was designed and constructed at the university that features 22 stations where students use computers and play popular video games called League of Legends and Overwatch that are games nationally and globally.

The world of Esports at colleges and universities is a nationwide program and is the newest fastest growing trend in college athletics, according to Troy Chiefari, ONU Esports coach. Chiefari grew up with Esports at his college in 2000 and he started playing the games in 2004 competitively.

“Esports is very social where they are always talking to complete tasks and learn a lot of interpersonal skills,” Chiefari said.

Each team has a task to complete from an attacking team. He compared it to regular competitive sports where there are objectives to play a game. There is another team trying to stop the competitors from getting points.

ONU teammates practice three nights a week Monday through Friday for three hours each time. They compete in their Esports arena Saturdays against other university teams.

The League of Legends game is a 40-minute game played by five team members and Overwatch is a 20-minute game played by six members at a time. The university has computers the students use and headphones to play the video games.

Ethan Snider, ONU senior graphic design major, said he has learned how to work with his teammates and communicate.

He said League of Legends, a game he has played for the last 7 1/2 years, is a video game to destroy the enemy base and the end goal is to knock down objectives before arriving at the base. Overwatch is a video game where there are maps to advance vehicles from one point to another and a capture the flag type game to control areas long enough.

“We do a lot of team building, something that is part of careers where we do exercises as a team to help one another and fill different roles in the team,” Snider said.

Daniel DiBiasio, ONU president, said Esports is one of the fastest growing activities across the country.

“We were excited about the program because it relates to our tradition in engineering, and now students from all disciplines want to participate,” DiBiasio said.

The university’s goal is to provide programs that are relevant today and he said the program is definitely a relevant program.

Tom Simmons, ONU athletic director, said the university saw that Esports was a growing trend among colleges that would match the university’s academic profile.

“This program has exceeded any expectations I have had and am continually amazed at its popularity,” Simmons said. “It’s our responsibility as a university to graduate students who are ready to make a living in a changing world and video games are in our culture.”

From left are Zach Rondeau, Ohio Northern University student, Troy Chiefari, ONU ESports coach, and Jace Addis, ONU student, playing an Esports video game in the university’s Esports arena.

From left, ONU Esports program teammates Jo Jennings, Derek Ritterbusch and Justin Montgomery compete in a game of League of Legends.

Troy Chiefari, ONU Esports coach, explains the program to Chris Burns-DiBiasio, university president’s wife and ONU director of community relations, Dan DiBiasio, ONU president and Abbie Chiefari, Troy’s wife.

Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

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