A day in the life of a D1 esports athlete
Last fall, Cleveland State University rolled out a varsity esports team. It's part of the athletic department and is thriving. But many students don’t know we have a team, let alone why a group of chair-bound students sitting in front of computers count as student-athletes.
I was part of the inaugural CSU esports team in its first semester in fall 2019. I played Overwatch. Currently I'm in my senior year and I only have three classes remaining, so I don’t meet the full-time requirement to be apart of the active roster for the team. But I still take part in many of its activities, and I'm the team broadcaster for Overwatch games on Thursdays, live from the Vikings twitch page at csuvikes_gg.
I'm not going to plug the team – their stats are here and I'd encourage you to watch them on Twitch whenever you can – but what I do want to do is give you an inside look at what a day in the life of an esports athlete looks like.
10 a.m. – wake up.
Even if you don’t play video games you might be aware of the stereotype that gamers are awake in the early hours of the morning, exercising their thumbs on a gaming console. This stereotype holds true for me, however I always make sure to get my eight hours of sleep.
Having a healthy sleep schedule is something that was heavily impressed on us during esports training. During my time active on the team, we had several meetings with doctors from the Cleveland Clinic, who are at the forefront of esports medicine. They taught us everything from warm-up stretches designed for gamers to techniques to prevent eye strain while gaming.
12:30 p.m. – on campus for class or workouts
As a member of the team we had to maintain a 3.0 GPA, just like the other athletes on campus, and take a full-time class schedule.
As part of the athletic department the esports team has access to athletic academic advisers to help build our classes around our sports schedule. Freshman and anyone pulling less than a 3.0 were required to log a few hours extra a week in the study hall.
Part of the term "student-athlete" meant every Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. we had mandatory workouts with a trainer on campus. And to think, some people have the nerve to say esports athletes aren’t real athletes!
4 p.m. – arrive at the Lair for practice or matches
The esports team practices and plays at the same facility that the Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA 2k team uses. It's called Cavs Legion Lair, and it's a state of the art facility in Cleveland's Battery Park neighborhood, just outside downtown. We would practice at the lair for two hours every day, excluding the day after a game day.
On practice days we would spend some time looking over our previous match to identify mistakes and areas we could improve, then spend the rest of the time practicing by playing one another.
On match days we have a stricter schedule of warming up and focusing on the game ahead of us.
Being at the lair with the team was my favorite part. I played soccer and ran track in high school, so I was no stranger to being a part of a team. But there was something special about being on the ground floor for esports at Cleveland State and setting the standard for every student who comes through the program after me.
6 p.m. - head home
After practice I would make my way back home to finish up schoolwork and, to wind down, play more video games, but not Overwatch. My go to games for chilling include Madden and FIFA.
Why write this?
I wanted to tell you my story to give you an insight into the day-to-day life of a player on an esports team. But I also wanted to draw attention to CSU's program and the limitless potential it has to offer.
It's only getting started, but the benefits esports can bring to the university and a student through tuition dollars and exposure are incredible.
My hope is that – as esports continues to push into the mainstream – our team at CSU becomes one of the first names people mention in the future when they talk about the origins of collegiate esports and how far they've come.