The Main Controller: SU ESports Gaming  Architect Nominated For Award

Courtesy @esportsawards via twitter

Since 2016, the ESports Awards have been a globally recognized celebration of achievements dedicated to the online gaming community. Head Coach and General Manager of the Southern University ESports team, Christopher Turner, has been nominated for Collegiate Ambassador of the Year at this year’s awards, to be held November 11, 2021, in Arlington, TX. The recognition comes after a roughly three-year journey full of unknown stress and struggle, but ultimately, success.

“What keeps me going is...the multiple stories of inclusion, feeling a part of something that’s bigger, [and] creating opportunities,'' replied Turner when asked about his motivation to lead the ESports program at Southern. “Getting into it, I saw opportunity here, I just didn’t know how big it was,”

Prior to launching Southern’s program, Turner helped Southern University Lab School open the first-ever E-Sports lab at any school in the state of Louisiana. Leaning on the pillars of career development, competition, community, health, and wellness, the E-Sports program was accepted as an official Southern University student organization in September 2020. Creating an unprecedented pipeline allowing members of the team to develop their gaming abilities from middle school through their senior year of college. “To be able to touch and build a pipeline, and be the only one in the country that can showcase that, and actually have a point of concept that others can come and see...I just feel like I’m on a divine assignment,” said Turner.

For founding member and current president Jamal Young, making history just from doing one of his favorite hobbies was an opportunity he couldn’t resist. “Before I knew about our program, I took gaming seriously, but it wasn’t on a competitive level,” said Young, a senior majoring in computer science. “When I knew we could be the first ones to start off on the ESports team for Southern University, who never had an ESports team, it was something to take advantage of and be a part of the process.”

Initial efforts to field a team in 2020 didn’t go as hoped due to many students being unsure of the program or not understanding the level of effort needed to be a member. Award-winning Rocket League player Noland Johnson, a senior majoring in English, didn’t hear of the ESports team until one of his friends shared an email with him. Months later he would lead Southern’s Rocket League team to finish 2nd in the SWAC championships.“Being able to compete for my school, compete against other people in the SWAC, to have streamers, to have commentators. It was such a dope introduction to the whole world. I felt appreciated for the skill I’ve always honed for a long time.”

When asked if members should be regarded as student-athletes, sophomore black history education major and Madden regional finalist Sam Jefferson encouraged doubters to look beyond the stereotype. “Someone who competes at any level [should be considered] an athlete, [regardless] of the skill or craft,” Noting that it is possible to burn calories playing video games, he also drew comparisons to the mental side of the game. “Somebody who plays Madden has to know the game of football, somebody who plays 2K has to have basketball IQ.”

Currently, 100 student gamers are divided amongst competitive and casual teams, perfecting their skills across popular video games including Rocket League, NBA 2K, EA Sports Madden NFL, and Call of Duty. Future aspirations for the program include being able to provide scholarships for in-state and out-of-state students and open an on-campus ESports lab for players and students alike to play and watch. Be sure to support Coach Turner by voting at before the November 10 deadline, and follow @SUBR_ESports on Twitch and Twitter to keep up with the latest news, games, and updates with the program.

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