Bridgewater College Levels Up with the Launch of a Varsity eSports Team


Between now and next fall, renovations will take place based on the visions of several mock-ups. The esports program will have a brand-new facility to begin their first year of competition.

Nathan Good, Editor in Chief

Bridgewater, Va.- On Sept. 7, Bridgewater College announced the launch of an esports team for the 2023 Fall semester, under the direction of Head Esports Coach Tristan Supples. 

Esports, also known as competitive online gaming, has become one of the fastest growing sports, with more than 400 million participants and players worldwide. More than 350 universities across the country have an esports program, and Bridgewater College joins them. 

Bridgewater College will compete in both the National Association of Collegiate Esports and the Mid-Atlantic Esports conference. Among the conference members include names like George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Shenandoah University.

Esports athletes will play in a freshly renovated space dedicated uniquely for online gaming, featuring a competitive arena, practice room and coaching office. Top-notch professional gaming equipment will be provided for the entirety of esports athletes. 

Advisor Tristan Supples
Head Esports Coach Tristan Supples is excited to aid Bridgewater students with developing their skills and passions with relation to the online gaming industry. He has been involved with the Bridgewater IT center since being a student at Bridgewater. (Kirsten Pittman)

Supples is a 2021 Bridgewater College graduate who worked as the Systems and Network Engineer with the Bridgewater College IT department prior to founding the esports program. Passionate about online gaming for over ten years, Supples has dreamed of having this job position for quite some time.

“I am really excited to foster and generate a community at Bridgewater,” said Supples. “It is underrepresented publicly, but privately it is important for many students. Having a place where they can connect and belong is important.”

The esports program will be recruiting teams for League of Legends, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Overwatch. Tryouts will begin in March of the 2023 Spring Semester. 

While esports may not be a traditional sport, most aspects of the program will be just like other collegiate sports. Similar to other teams on campus, varsity members of the esports team will be required to participate in regular physical activity and study halls. 

The regular esports season games will be played in each college’s respective facilities, but post season will be played at other universities. Athletes will specialize in their own game and compete with a team of one to six other members, depending on the game. 

Students practicing in the eSports practice space render
Like many sports on campus, esport athletes will have a separate practice space from the official competition area. This mock-up was unveiled with the announcement of the esports program.

Just like every sport, fans will have the opportunity to watch the esport competitions, as each match will be streamed live on Twitch as well as content creation found on YouTube.

“Esports and competitive gaming has always had a negative rep when it comes to being represented as a real sport, and with us implementing this program, we can help bring in a more positive light to esports as a whole and really show how big this field can be,” said Esports Club President Jacob Leach. “Not only that, but it allows students who are not into traditional sports to still have a place that they feel comfortable competing in, along with being able to be part of a community of people that all share a love of gaming and competition in general.”

Not only will the program provide a place for esport athletes to take their extracurricular interests to the collegiate level, but it will also provide an opportunity for content creators, social media managers, team managers and journalists in the Bridgewater student body to gain insightful experience. Supples hopes for an environment where anyone interested in the program can develop a professional skill set that prepares them for a variety of different careers, including in the gaming industry. 

the official Bridgewater eSports logo of the eagle with a red, white, and black color scheme. Says "Bridgewater College eSports."
Along with the announcement of the esports program, the official Bridgewater esports logo was released to the public. The new logo puts a unique spin on the original eagle by using a darker color scheme and a red eye.

“All athletic programs go hand in hand, and go together in supporting the mission of Bridgewater College,” said Supples. “This program can help students develop soft and hard skills with jobs relating to the esports field and beyond.”

While the esports program will go live in Fall of 2023, the esports club founded during the 2021-2022 school year will continue to offer gaming activities outside varsity competition. Gamers who would like to connect with other players still have the option to play away from the student-athlete sphere. 

I am excited to see an official esports team on campus because it will give more attention to that scene,” said Esports Club Vice President Dylan Adams. “I am not planning on being involved with the varsity program, but the club will continue to be supported by me.”

Bridgewater esports can be found on a variety of social media platforms including Twitch, Discord, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and TikTok. 

Any student, including current seniors, who are interested in being a part of the esports program can email the program at [email protected], connect on Discord or fill out the interest form on the Bridgewater esports page.