Growing Elon Club Esports opens gaming space on campus

Continuously growing in popularity and membership, the Elon Club Esports had a grand opening for its new gaming space.

There’s an area tucked away on campus where you’ll see heads buried behind computer monitors and expressions of determination on display.

This place isn’t Belk Library or one of the many academic learning areas. It’s the newly opened Elon Club Esports space inside of Global Commons dedicated to the 50 students that competitively challenge other club esports programs and the other 100 members that are leisurely involved with esports.

“In November, we were elevated to club sport level,” said John Spitznagel ’23, president of Elon Club Esports.

Left to right: Jon Dooley, President Book, John Spitznagel ’23 and Larry Mellinger cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the Esports gaming room.

That helped pave the way for a dedicated space for esports on campus for gaming and on Tuesday, Aug. 31, a grand opening and ribbon-cutting was held in the room for existing members and potential new members. President Connie Ledoux Book and Larry Mellinger, director of Campus Recreation and Wellness, attended the grand opening and spoke about the growing popularity of the sport.

“We know that students who get involved in clubs and organizations at Elon have even higher student success, better graduation rates, deeper relationships and perform better in the classroom,” Book said. “That’s why the university invests in opportunities and facilitate club formation and student engagement.”

Formed six years ago, the club has seen exponential growth and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. Since its formation, the club has served a significant development of character for its member, teaching them much more than video games but life skills that they will take in every aspect of their lives.

“What started as a hobby for many students has really grown and we can see that in student leadership’s development, putting together the club, thinking about who we compete with, how we’re coached, how we support each other,” Book said. “That’s all leadership development.”

President Book speaking during the opening of the Esports gaming room.

Mellinger said that as the Elon campus and community continue to evolve, Campus Recreation and Wellness has the “flexibility and adaptability” to change with it.

“There’s so much excitement around this space and it’s been building for the last several years, so it’s great to see this come to fruition,” Mellinger said. “This space is representative of an evolving recreation and wellness needs on campus and how we’re responsive to those needs.”

Spitznagel and the club’s executive board met with Vice President of Student Life Jon Dooley at the end of January and by May, the space was completed. Before what was a small, unused room with a handful of desktops and a printer is now adorned with 12 gaming PCs, split into six-a-side, a Nintendo Switch and an Xbox Series X.

The goal is to have the space open to all in the Elon community for two hours each day of the week. “Anyone can come and play as long as the door is open,” Spitznagel said.

In-house scrimmages as well as hosting other teams from other schools will be planned in the future, Spitznagel said.

There are five teams in Elon Club Esports that play Rainbow Six: Siege, Rocket League, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Rocket League and League of Legends.

Before this space, Spitznagel said the team used to play with each other using Wi-Fi from their respective locations. With the new room dedicated to esports, the club will be able to run games more smoothly and have a more centralized approach going forward.

During the ribbon-cutting, Spitznagel thanked the previous leadership of the Esports Club for laying the groundwork to get the organization to its current state.

“I know that they brought it back from almost extinction and to see where we are today, it’s just great,” Spitznagel said.

With the growth that the club has seen with its recent revitalization and the new space, the next goal for the club is to create a sense of community.

“We’ve got the space now. We’ve got the competitive atmosphere there. I want to start focusing more on casual gamers,” Spitznagel said. “There are tons of people on campus that play video games. So, I want to start trying to nurture a space for people who are interested in video games to be able to come in and just talk to other people about it and maybe play some.”