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University set to add esports to Bulldog athletics

The mainstream growth of the esports industry has captured the attention of collegiate athletics programs across the country. With more than 170 schools registered as members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), it’s quickly becoming a highly sought-after program at colleges and universities. “Being able to create relevant programs for future students is a high priority for everyone at TWU. We’ve recently heard a lot of buzz around the creation of these esports teams. After more than a year of researching the possibility, we thought it was time to begin one at TWU,” shared President Harley Knowles.

Wheat gets nod to lead program

The introduction of esports will bring a new coach and new players. Luke Wheat, current assistant women’s soccer coach, has accepted the position of head esports coach. Coach Wheat brings three years of coaching experience to the team, as well as being a former student-athlete. “Coming from a smaller college, I know how to succeed in that environment. I will be here to help my team throughout their four years here at Tennessee Wesleyan,” says Wheat. Recruitment of players is already underway, as many prospects have profiles registered with NACE. Bulldog esports will launch its program in the fall of 2020 with teams for Rocket League, League of Legends and Overwatch. Interested gamers should complete a recruitment form and apply to the University.

About TWU esports:

  • Head Coach: Luke Wheat
  • Member of National Association of Collegiate Esports
  • 3 competitive teams
  • 12 student-athletes on roster
  • Eligible for academic and athletic scholarships (contact admissions for complete details)
  • Dedicated practice and tournament facility with custom-built PC systems
  • Follow the team’s progress on Instagram and Twitter

Meet the head coach:

  • Luke Wheat
  • 3 years coaching at TWU (women’s soccer)
  • Played soccer at Maryville College (Maryville, TN)
  • Favorite game – “currently, Rocket League. I enjoy the technical ability it takes to rank up and the competitive nature behind the game that requires me to be focused every game.”

Esports Fast Facts:

  • Estimated 2.2 billion gamers worldwide
  • 6.6 billion hours watching esports last year
  • 1.13 active streamers on Twitch and YouTube
  • 40% of NACE is made of NAIA schools

Athletics media contact:
Chris Berry
Director of Sports Information

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