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Mia White

Sep 25, 2023

Coach Spotlight - John Hartzog

John Hartzog (he/him), is the current Esports Coach at Florida Gateway College (FGC) and has been for the last three years since the program started. FGC is starting its season off with 20 players but is always looking to grow. 

“I started playing Overwatch in 2015 and began to watch esports competitions like League of Legends and the Overwatch World Cup. Video games have always been a big part of my life but I was really interested in how it began to work itself into a competitive environment,” said Hartzog.

What does this (upcoming) season look like for your team?

“We are introducing Valorant to our campus this season to stay current with esports trends and expand our offerings that seem popular with our student population. We are excited to make it into the post-season once again after having several students in the competitions last year,” said Hartzog, “The NJCAAE has been a wonderful organization to get involved with and I have learned a lot interacting and working alongside the NJCAAE and other coaches.”

Hartzog explained that in order to get ready and prepare for NJCAAE Championships, he scouts the competition, works on compositional changes, and reviews gameplay footage and scrims.

“I had a student join in my first season of OW bronze ranking but had a lot of excitement about the program. He ended his last season ranked Masters and led the OW team as captain to the NJCAAE Spring 23 championships,” said Hartzog.

What are some of the challenges that come with college esports?

“Fighting for support among more established traditional sports. Esports still has a stigma that it’s a bunch of kids playing games. There is a lot of overlap though with the communication, coordination, plays, and technical skill required to be good in either sport,” said Hartzog, “Many of us coaches in this space don’t do this full-time. So, we are adding just not coaching at the end of the day to our list of things to do but also technical support, casting, streaming, social media and recruitment. Managing all the facets of this can be overwhelming at times but most of us are passionate about what we do.”

Hartzog’s best advice to those looking to get into esports is always to start small. 

“Pick a couple of popular titles and get it going. You’ll be surprised how many students you have dropping by after a year asking you for Rocket League, Apex, and Pokemon. Regardless of how long I get to be involved with esports, I will say it has been incredibly rewarding getting the students engaged in it and developing the program from the ground up,” said Hartzog.

When Hartzog isn’t busy juggling responsibilities, coaching, and gaming himself, he can be found in the kitchen making delicious baked goods.

Follow FGC on X (Twitter) @FGCathletics!

NJCAA Esports Alternate Logo

National Junior College Athletic

Association Esports

8801 J.M. Keynes Drive - Suite 450.

Charlotte, NC 28262

(719) 590-9788

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