Dec 17, 2022
Coach John O'Neil
John O’Neil (he/him), is the Esports Coach at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and has been for the last two years. He entered the esports community as a player on his college Overwatch team, and the rest is history.
“College esports is a 24/7 job, having to deal with scheduling, practices, and players. It’s always rewarding seeing players succeed though,” said O’Neil.
This year, NOVA has over 50+ esports players with the introductions of intramurals this semester. According to O’Neil, the team usually has over 150 try out. The team is currently running tryouts right now, ad O’Neil is excited about the future of the NOVA team.
How did your players prepare for the NJCAAE Championships?
“We prepare with weekly practices and scrims. We really focus on building teams around chemistry rather than pure skill and rank,” said O’Neil.
In June of 2022, the NOVA esports team received a congratulatory letter from the Governor of Virginia for winning the Rocket League and Valorant National Junior College Athletics Association Championships.
“This was really big for our program and all the hard work that the players and staff put in to make all of what NOVA Esports is,” said O’Neil, “The NJCAAE has provided us a league for the last two years to compete with schools similar to ours and players really like knowing they can play other community college students. The recent split levels of play in the NJCAAE have really helped us bring esports to a lot of students across our college too.”
Have any of your players' growth or stories stood out to you as a coach? Why?
“One of my Rocket League players was in the Marine Corps and came to NOVA to get his education after the military. He was on our very first Rocket League team and started from the bottom to winning two championships,” said O’Neil.
O’Neil expressed that the most difficult part of being a collegiate esports coach is finding the balance between the teams and spending time with all the teams equally. NOVA has had esports on its campus since the Fall of 2018.
His advice to people who are thinking of getting into esports is to “be ready for it, it’s going to hit you hard at first but you can do this.”
“Esports is constantly changing and evolving, when it does you have to be ready to adapt to stay on top of things,” said O’Neil.