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Frank Morgan is the Director of Esports at King University
We spoke with Frank Morgan at King University about their esports program.
Animation Career Review: What are the esports in which your school participates?
Frank Morgan: Overwatch, League of Legends. Adding Rocket League and Fortnite next year
ACR: If you offer esports scholarships, please describe your program (full ride, in-state only, etc)
FM: We do have an athletic scholarship budget. We have the ability to grant scholarship to any academically eligible individual or number of individuals so long as we do not exceed our scholarship budget
ACR: Please fill us in on your recruiting efforts. How are potential students identified? Key stats? What can a student do to connect with your program?
FM: Ranking systems for various games, playing games with a variety of individuals, online resources for matching with potential recruits. I am very open and speak to any and all interested potential student athletes. The best way to connect to the program is to email me at [email protected] I am very prompt in response and typically urge the athlete to call my cell phone so I may speak with them personally.
ACR: Esports are new to everyone. Please share with us the story of how your program came to fruition.
FM: Micah Ridley started the program last year. He is an Esports Coach at Milligan College now. Forgive me for lack of details here.
ACR: Describe the type of student are you seeking.
FM: One that can fulfill the mission statement set forth by King University. I want the Esports team to have the highest GPA on campus. In addition they must be team players. I am very particular about the people I allow in the arena. Competition is no place for ego or pride. We focus on practicing the skills necessary to make informed decisions directed at fulfilling the team objectives.
ACR: As esports are so new, what are the common misconceptions people have about them?
FM: It is easy. Anyone can do it. The pros have it made. If I was pro I would be the happiest person in the world.
ACR: What are the common concerns you hear from parents regarding esports participation?
FM: Lack of exercise. Lack of physical connection with people or the world in general.
ACR: Tell us about the season. What other schools are in your division and conference? How many opportunities are there to compete for a student athlete?
FM: We compete in the ECAC which contains 8 schools. However we compete outside ECAC quite a bit. In theory we can compete as much as we want, given we are not actually an NCAA sport, we just operate as one to promote the values they also appreciate.
ACR: What can an esports student athlete expect in terms of time commitment? How many hours of play, practice, travel?
FM: We practice together as a team with coach present for 2 hours a day M – F. We exercise twice a week for one hour. We travel only a couple times a year. Competitions vary but we mostly compete Sunday evenings.
ACR: What are the academic expectations? Are there minimum GPA requirements? Do you offer study tables or other programs to support the student athletes?
FM: We follow all NCAA guidelines for continuing education and minimum requirements. I however will remove a student-athlete from practice and competition if I feel they need academic focus. The Esports arena is located in the same building as our Tutoring Center here at King.
ACR: Share with us how your team is doing this season.
FM: We have not competed yet, but the atmosphere, competitiveness and motivation on the team is baffling sometimes. I really appreciate what they do.
ACR: Tell us about your coaching staff.
FM: I am the Coaching Staff. I have 3 World Records in Mario Kart 64, I am a former finalist at the National MK64 Meet, and the second “fastest” player in America. I was a TN State Champion, NAIA National Finalist and NCAA DII All-American Wrestler. I was Mr. Teen Knoxville Bodybuilding Champ when I was 17. I attribute all my success to my Mom. My mother was a very dominate figure in my life, not only athletically but academically. It was required I keep a 4.0 GPA to compete in any sport in high school, which I did. I was required to read and write weekly book reports for inspection during the summer months. The latter was when I realized practice does make perfect. I loathed reading, but I read at a 12th grade level in elementary school. During this time my Mom also worked and went to school full time. She was cleaning houses when she was read my book reports back then and after 7 years of school (beginning in community college with a GED) she is now the Vice President of Finance for McGhee Tyson Airport. I got to see her achieve all these while she also pushed me to be what I am now. She never asked for results. She always told me if I believe in myself and try as hard as I possibly can then I could do anything. Watching her inspired me a great deal and the mentality she instilled in me is something I will give to every student athlete on this team.
ACR: Tell us about your esports practice and/or competition facilities.
FM: We have our own brand new facility complete with 6 brand new Omen gaming computers. Email me for the specs :D We also have our own server to insure our ping is as low as possible.
ACR: Please share any unique qualities of your program (first one in state, emphasis on team) and why students should consider your school?
FM: I pride myself in the ability to mentor student-athletes in a way that maximizes their potential in class, life and competition. The team atmosphere here is just incredible. Their natural drive and want to be better is unlike anything ive seen in most traditional sports. This quality is one that is often overlooked by recruits. At the end of the day you want to be around people you enjoy and can stimulate your thoughts for accelerated growth mentally and spiritually. Our team is loaded with personable individuals who are always looking to game with a new friend. Don’t be surprised if you have a hard time competing with them though.
ACR: What advice do you have for prospective students wanting to pursue esports, as well as those specifically seeking esports scholarships?
FM: Do the things most people won’t do to be successful. Take care of classwork like a young professional. Do the drills available in the games you play that grind in the necessary reactions to be the best. Balance your time in a way to promote success in all aspects of your life. This will ensure the time you spend competing will be thoughtful and most useful.
ACR: In what ways do participants in collegiate esports programs benefit?
FM: The experience gained working with a team is irreplaceable. The intensity of these games mimics chaos in the world. The way athletes respond to negative, positive or indifferent outcomes mold them to how they will respond in the real world. Any situation can be positive. Most importantly remember that failure is feedback and without failure we learn very little about humility and loss.
ACR: Tell us about your goals for your program. (Do you expect to add more sports, scholarships, etc)
FM: We are planning to double our Esports offering next year. (competing in two games now, competing in four next year) I want 100% retention rate on this team. The importance of talking with recruits, building a connection and establishing King University as a viable option for them is very important. It is a privilege to be a part of our Esports team. I only bring in athletes who understand that. I want the Esports team to have the highest GPA on campus and miss the least amount of classes. In addition to these academic goals I want to be the best team in the country in any game we decide to play. Some may see these goals as lofty. If you are one of those people, then do not play Esports here.
Check out more interviews at The Animation Career Review Interview Series.