Cottey College esports coach Bovey Zhang announced that the College signed its first student athlete in the new esports program. Alexie Ward of Creston, Iowa, signed her letter of intent last week to join the Comets.
“Gaming is a big passion in my life,” said Ward. “I am super glad to be coming in to an all -female team and getting the confidence to expand my talents.”
Ward has been active in her school and community. She was an All-State speech performer 2018-2020; received a certificate for outstanding achievement in drama in Denair, California in 2017; earned a Career Skills Certificate from Precision Exams for Personal Financial Responsibility in 2019; and attended the Iowa RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) Conference in 2018. She has also been an active volunteer serving as both a drama camp counselor and an art camp counselor in Creston. Ward has also volunteered for Meals for Heartland.
“I’m excited to have Lexie a part of Cottey’s esports program,” said Zhang. “Her passion and driven ambition is not only a great addition to the team but for the future of the College.”
The esports team will be the College’s seventh athletic offering. Esports, also known as electronic sports, is a form of competition using video games. Teams compete online in tournaments and matches. According to the Next College Student Athlete website (ncsasports.org), 175 colleges and universities are members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and offer officially recognized varsity esports programs. Cottey, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), will offer scholarships to esports student athletes as is the case with other student athletes.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, 45 percent of gamers are female. Super Data Research reports that women accounted for $44 billion in game sales in 2016, a figure that was projected to reach $118 billion by 2019. However, a much smaller percentage of college esports scholarships are going to females.
Like the financial industry, esports has typically been male dominated. However, virtual reality, as well as YouTube and Twitch gaming videos, have created a whole new dynamic and audience. These changes in the gaming space have been met with an influx of female gamers, a market that is expected to see considerable growth in the coming years.