NELSONVILLE, Ohio — Mark Riley never thought he’d be in this position.
He joined Hocking College in 2014 and became Cybersecurity and Network Systems program manager in 2019.
Now the Athens native and avid gamer finds himself leading the eSports program and excited about what the future holds.
“We’ve invested in the equipment, we’ve invested in the lab. We’ve invested in trying to get students here, recruited here to play eSports cause we see the value. I’m here to go to school, and I’m a student-athlete and I play eSports,” said Riley, the Hocking College eSports coach.
Hocking College’s eSports team has its own streaming channel on Twitch and plays games Overwatch and Rocket League.
They play year-round in this lab and are members of two national college-level conferences, the NJCAAE and NECC.
“I’ve had many students tell me, ‘this is the reason I try and get good grades and I try to get on the Dean’s List because I want to be a part of this,’” said Riley.
Columbus native Myles Taylor is one of nearly two dozen gamers on the eSports team. Although he plans to study cybersecurity and networking, he said he finds value in this experience.
“Machine operations, how this stuff works. So I mean when you’re playing eSports you’re going to be playing on gaming rids and stuff like that so even if I’m not a professional gamer, I can always learn. I can always get a job setting up the workstation,” said Taylor.
Riley said the eSports program is much more than just a club. And just like baseball, basketball, and football, it’s all about camaraderie and team building.
He’s hopeful in the coming years to take the team and program to the next level.
“I would love to see an arena built that can handle that. It would allow us to hold regional tournaments, which would also allow us to do a lot of recruiting activities, bring in high school kids to actually see our program,” said Riley.
For more information on the Hocking College eSports program, click here.