St. Ambrose University is introducing a program to accommodate a growing trend in sports. The university in Davenport recently announced the addition of e-sports to its varsity line-up.
In the fall, co-ed gamers from St. Ambrose will begin competing against colleges across the country in two popular online video games — Overwatch and League of Legends.
Director of Athletics Ray Shovlain says his department has been steadily growing for the past decade, with the addition of programs like bowling, lacrosse, and athletic band, to name a few.
"It's an additional attraction for a student or a student athlete to join us here at St. Ambrose University," he says.
St. Ambrose students can earn talent-based scholarships for e-sports. And Shovlain says these students are often interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering or math.
"We're outstanding right now in the health science area, the engineering area, the math obviously has been very strong with the addition of those other programs as well," Shovlain says. "Seventy percent of the gamers are academically seeking degrees in those areas."
St. Ambrose will join Grand View University in Des Moines and Morningside College in Sioux City in the National Association of Collegiate E-Sports, a group of 50 schools that now have competitive gaming teams. Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Robert Morris University in Chicago, and Illinois College in Jacksonville are also members.
Augustana College in Rock Island debuted an e-sports club last month.