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Esports is growing in West Texas

McMurry's team reflects on inaugural season

ABILENE, Texas — Esports are growing across the globe, even here in West Texas. This coming year will be the second year for esports in the Big Country. Although it's just beginning, the future is bright for the sport.

"When we started this program last year, there was only seven college teams sponsored by their schools. This year will be three times the programs supported by their school," coach Matt Tarpley said.

The esports team at McMurry is now heading into their second year as a program. Coach says there has been so much interest from high school and college students to get involved.

"There's no higher student engagement value than gaming. You're also reaching out to a different group of kids that wouldn't of taken ownership of being in school because they didn't have any way to connect. This is a great opportunity for them."

Alexis Long is one of the three females on the team at McMurry. Long has played since a young age and it has been her passion ever since. While esports is a hobby, she hopes to break into the gaming industry after college.

"It's a great way to get your foot in the door in terms of networking. For me, I want to go into the gaming industry, so being on an esports team and learning from it helps me," Long added.

Long is continuing to thrive in the male-dominated industry and hopes more women follow behind her breaking down the barrier. 

"We've gone so far as a society in terms of gaming. 48% of gamers are women. There is an acceptance now but we have a long way to go. I've dealt with hate comments over the years, i'm more familiar with it than I wish I was."

The McMurry team is a diverse group of students from ex-athletes to medical students to students who play as a hobby, coach believes that's what makes esports unique.

"When you put them all in a safe environment surrounded by people just like them, they just bloom... it's just beautiful," coach Tarpley said.