Nov 21, 2021
Membership Spotlight - St. Clair College
The National Junior Athletic Association Esports (NJCAAE) recently gained their first international member from Windsor, Ontario. The St. Clair College Saints joined with their esports team in September of 2021.
Shaun Byrne, Esports Director of the Saints, sat down to have an interview with the NJCAAE and had much to say about his team.
“We have had our eye on the NJCAAE for a little while now and we realized a few of our teams had fairly light schedules this Fall and decided to join and see how we stack up against colleges from the US,” said Byrne, “I think it's a unique opportunity for us as the first Canadian school to come in and see if we can make a mark.”
How did the program at St. Clair College start?
“In 2016, I was approached by students from St. Clair College that were involved in running the Information Technology Club on campus,” said Byrne, “The ITC for about 12 years at that point had been running LAN parties on campus but they were looking to grow. The administration granted access to larger facilities as well as additional resources but it quickly became clear to the students that they needed help.”
At the time, Byrne was CEO of an events management company focused on esports.
“I was pulled in as a consultant to work with the ITC and some staff members from the college to build a large event. While in those meetings, I saw an opportunity to pitch the idea of launching a varsity esports program. Back then only a small handful of programs existed in the US so I used those as evidence for the idea,” said Byrne, “To my surprise, the staff members in those meetings loved the idea and we were able to announce the program and launch in 2017.”
What has the student response been to the program?
“Student response has been amazing. As mentioned previously, there had always been a video gaming culture at St. Clair but the esports program gave it a spotlight,” said Byrne.
This year St. Clair has about 50 students involved in the varsity program, 75 students studying in the Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship diploma program, and another 150 or so in their student club.
Could you expand on the competitive history of the program?
“We were the first varsity program in Canada in 2017. From the get-go, we have been competitive in a variety of titles. Notable achievements for us include NACE National Championships in CSGO in 2019, and in Fortnite in 2021,” explained Byrne, “We were also East Coast Champions for Rocket League in the CCA Summer Series and we finished top 4 in North America this past summer.”
What is your goal for this school year?
“We have put a lot of effort into recruiting for this year and our goal is to finish ranked in the top 25 in every title we play in North America,” said Byrne, “In addition to that, our primary goal overall is to build student opportunity. We are working to increase the number of paid and volunteer student positions within our organization as well as develop a junior varsity program.”
Byrne and the Saints shared that they are happy that through esports they can compete cross-border against American schools.
“It's something our athletics teams rarely have the opportunity to do and so we're excited to take advantage of it and hopefully build a legacy of international competition for the future,” said Byrne.
The NJCAAE is thrilled to have St. Clair College as a member and can’t wait to see how their membership continues to grow.