By Ron Warnick
QCS Senior Writer 

Mesalands coach hopes to field esports team in 2023


December 29, 2021

Virtual meeting screen capture

This artist's rendering shows a proposed Mesalands Community College esports arena in Building A. Mesalands' esports coach said he wants to field a varsity team by fall 2023.

The coach of a forthcoming a video-game sports program at Mesalands Community College said in a board of trustees meeting last week he wants to field a varsity team by fall 2023.

Larry Wickham, director of institutional technology and coach of the future esports team, acknowledged a team competing by next fall was "ambitious."

Esports is a form of competition using video games and is fast-growing at the high school and collegiate level.

Wickham also laid out his vision for an eventual esports arena in Building A. Constructing an esports arena was part of the recently approved 10-year master plan for the college.

He said the arena would provide practice space for the college's Stampede team, be a study and recreation area for students when esports participants aren't using it and become a community destination for those who want to watch competitions.

"Many people probably have noticed there isn't a whole lot to do in Tucumcari, so let's add one more thing on the list of things to do in Tucumcari," Wickham said.

He said esports supports college programs such as graphic design, three-dimensional animation and computer science.

Wickham said the Mesalands esports program would join the National Junior College Athletic Association Esports, formed in 2019. He said 125 schools are members of the NJCAAE.

Mesalands President Gregg Busch said fielding a Stampede esports team is part of the college's long-term plan to boost enrollment.

Busch previously has said Mesalands eventually would join the National Junior College Athletic Association and add cross country to its offerings in addition to rodeo and golf.

The board of trustees, however, at least temporarily balked approving a purchase requisition or lease of equipment and furniture for the esports program.

Wickham said the vendor, CDW-G of Chicago, made last-minute changes to the proposal because it forgot chairs. The revised purchase would be $61,311.40, and the four-year lease would cost a total of $68,357.16.

Busch said he would have no objection to leasing the equipment because it would keep initial costs lower.

Board Chairman Jim Streetman said he was reluctant to approve a lease or purchase until the board receives more clarity on the revised proposal.

The board was scheduled to hold a special meeting this week, where it likely would decide which direction to take on the esports equipment.

Athletic Director Milan Rasic said paperwork on joining the NJCAA probably would be done by February.

He said Mesalands probably would join the association's Region 5, which primarily includes schools in Texas, or Region 9, which includes teams primarily from Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado.


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