Apr 13, 2023
Coach Spotlight - Tyler Nolan
Tyler Nolan (he/him), is the Athletic Director and Esports Coordinator at Northeastern Technical College (NETC) and has been for the last three years. Currently, there are six players on the NETC esports team. They play Super Smash Bros, Rocket League, and Call of Duty: Gunfight. One of their Super Smash Bros players went 7-0 while one of their Gunfight teams went 6-1. With the NJCAAE playoffs starting this week, the team is hoping for a solid run in both games. In the past, they have come really close to a National Championship on a few different games, and are hoping to get their first one this semester.
How did you get involved with esports and why is it important to you?
“I’ve played video games my whole life. From Sega Genesis at a cousin’s house, to my own Gameboy, then Playstation, and so on. My first experience in competitive gaming was on Call of Duty 3 (2006). I competed on a site called Gamebattles and quickly grew to be considered a top player. I played in the Pro Circuit Ladder on COD4 and some of my early teammates went on to be top players in MLG. I was known for my sniping and I’m still regarded as one of the best snipers to ever play Call of Duty to this day,” said Nolan, “Rather than focusing on competition, I transitioned into content creation and started making gameplay commentaries and sniping montages.”
In 2013, he was the 1st overall winner in FaZeClan’s FaZe5 recruitment challenge: a three-month-long contest with over one hundred thousand entries, but only 5 winners. Nolan said he spent roughly three years with FaZeClan from 2013-2016 creating content and traveling to different MLG events. From there, he took a break from gaming in 2016 to focus on getting his college degree.
“At that time, a career in gaming wasn’t a guarantee like it is today. I was only a few semesters away from graduating and wanted to ensure I had something to fall back on if I ever pursued a career in gaming again,” said Nolan.
After graduating and working as a certified personal trainer, he started creating content again and live streaming. COVID-19 hit and hurt his personal training clientele, however, around this same time, he was asked to develop an esports program at the local community college. Over those 3 years, he developed the NETC esports program and has helped start other athletics (Golf and Cross Country) at the college. He also grew his personal brand (Rockst4r) to over 600,000 followers across all platforms.
“I still stream and create content daily on Call of Duty: Warzone in addition to what I do at the college,” said Nolan, “Esports is important to me because I’ve seen it grow from the very beginning to what it is today. Esports today is huge, and it’s only going to get bigger. There’s always been a stigma around video games being a waste of time, but there are endless opportunities to pursue a career in esports. Whether you’re a professional player, content creator, coach, caster, sound engineer, or someone that builds PCs, the list goes on and on. Gaming/esports has been a major part of my day-to-day life for years and I try my best to showcase the value of esports to my players, my fans and my peers.”
What are some of the challenges that come with college esports and being an esports coach?
“For my college, in particular, recruiting and generating interest has been a challenge. Esports at NETC was our first official form of athletics, so most of our current students were not attending with athletics or competing in mind. Many of our students are part-time as well, meaning they are not eligible to compete on our main teams, just intramurals. Secondly, we started our program just as COVID-19 hit. Our campus went completely online/virtual for over a year, meaning there was no foot traffic on campus to generate interest in esports. We have a dedicated esports room on campus with 21 gaming stations with top-of-the-line PCs and equipment, but without students on campus, no one knew it,” said Nolan, “We’re still slowly converting back to in-person classes, which has helped spark some interest. We do hold camps for middle school and high school kids during the summer, and that has led to some potential recruits down the road.”
Have any of your players' growth or stories stood out to you as a coach/coordinator? Why?
“Our Super Smash Bros player this semester has been very impressive. He’s been wanting to sign up for esports for a few semesters but didn’t do so until this Spring. He finished the season 7-0 and is a top seed in the playoffs. In our first semester competing (Fall 2020), we had two Call of Duty: Warzone teams go undefeated. Both teams advanced to the semifinals in the playoffs. One moved on to the championship but lost a close one. It was exciting because our two teams almost played against each other for the National Championship,” said Nolan, “For Super Smash Bros, our player participates in scrims against other NJCAAE players and practices combos in his free time. For Gunfight, the rounds are more random, but our guys have game plans/strategy for each map.”
What are your thoughts on the NJCAAE?
“My experience with the NJCAAE has been nothing but positive. Thank you guys for providing an awesome platform for us to compete,” said Nolan, “Let’s get a coaches league going! I’d love to compete against some other coaches around the NJCAAE, especially in Call of Duty/Warzone!”
Outside of esports, Nolan has a 3-month-old son, Tatum. He was also an all-state baseball player all four years of high school and played baseball in college. He is a firm believer that playing sports growing up has benefited my hand-eye coordination and gaming skills. His favorite video game is Crash Bandicoot because it was one of his favorite games growing up and one of the earliest games he remembers playing with his dad.