Oct 7, 2022
Coach Kelsey Pagel
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (SWTC) is based in Fennimore, Wisconsin, and is home to many extracurricular activities. One program that SWTC has is esports. The esports team comprises students enrolled in many different programs of study from Automotive Technicians to Information Technology and Early Childhood Education. Their team focuses on team building as well as gameplay. Not only do they compete in games, but they also participate in various on and off-campus events that promote healthy competition and human connections that support equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Esports Coach, Kelsey Pagel gushes about the SWTC team in a recent interview with Mia White (NJCAAE).
“We have many part-time students this season, so we will be bringing most of our competition to intramurals. We have a few games in the open, but not as many as we have had in the past. Being a part of the NJCAAE has been a huge learning experience. There has been lots of growth on the NJCAAE side and on my program’s side as well, so learning how to navigate that has been probably the hardest part. It has been awesome to meet so many coaches and students from other institutions through the NJCAAE. We have made friendships outside of gaming because of the NJCAAE and its connections, which is amazing,” said Pagel.
How did you get involved in esports?
“I was an IT-network specialist student at my college and a lab assistant in our IT learning area. I grew up playing all sorts of video games and have always stayed up to date with equipment and having knowledge of pro esports games and players. My instructor told me that the school wanted to get involved with esports and he said I would be the best person to take the lead on it. My instructor, Aaron Holverson, helped me navigate the administrative side of college and learning, and helped me push esports at our college, which has built into what it has become now. It has been 3 years since and it’s officially a sport at our college. I am the head coach and director,” said Pagel.
Why is esports important to you?
“Esports is important to me because it brings people together, it helps boost strategic thinking, and I have seen it have a positive impact on students’ self-esteem. It also helps build communication and teamwork, which are part of our core abilities on our campus. That, and they are essential to get hired and keep a job after graduation. I also love video games! I have played competitively in the past and the drive associated with being one of the best is a great feeling,” said Pagel.
Have there been any players on your team who stick out to you with their success?
“I think just watching my team become friends and participate together has been great to see and be a part of. We get students from all different programs, and it connects us through games, so someone who might not have as many friends in their program has a whole team of friends. Having shy students, they gain confidence that helps them in their classes and respective programs. Having friends gives them more confidence,” said Pagel.
What are some challenges that come with collegiate esports?
“I think the commitment you make to playing with a team can be difficult since most students have a family, work one or two jobs, and are in college. Some students are very committed, and some treat it more casually. Mixing students that are very competitive and some that are just playing for fun can be a big challenge,” said Pagel, “Teaching students who already feel they are the best or very good at a game is difficult. Some players can have an ego, especially in competitive play. I love learning new things from my students, but some are not as receptive to coaching. So, for me, it’s more about positivity and trying to help players grow as gamers and people.”
SWTC is going into its 3rd year having an esports program. This is the first semester they are officially a sport at their college; however, previously they were considered a club.
“If you truly enjoy something you should always give it a chance! Esports and gaming can be great communities. I have met some of my best friends through gaming and esports so if someone is thinking about getting into esports I would highly recommend it,” expressed Pagel.