Southwest Wisconsin Technical College has a new opportunity for its students: NJCAA Esports. Thanks to the efforts of Aaron Holverson, a faculty advisor and Network Communications Specialist instructor, and Kelsey Pagel, an IT-Network Specialist graduate, the college is now an official member of the National Junior College Athletic Association for Esports.

NJCAAE is an organization built around competitive video games. Students who are interested in games such as Call of Duty, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and many others, are now given the chance to play on the collegiate level.

Aaron had presented interest in an esports team to Kelsey, knowing her skill set would be appropriate for the task. Kelsey hit the ground running. She worked tirelessly to get the team organized and started. This included her setting up the team on the league’s website, starting a Discord server so all the incoming players had a place to communicate for games and hangout otherwise, and preparing scheduling for games and practices. She went to great lengths to set up scrimmages with other schools’ esports teams.

The team has participated in Local Area Network (or LAN) events to compete in person with other colleges, and has had its own events on campus, providing more socializing for the team members. Kelsey has stated that all the work she’s put forth has been worth it.

Games happen each week, with practices added in as well to keep skills up and to build more comradery between the teammates. The students that comprise the team are from all different backgrounds and programs. Students have joined from Graphic & Web Design, Early Childhood Education, Electro-Mechanical Technology, Liberal Arts, and many others. Friendships were quickly made though the programs and backgrounds are so varied. In regard to the fast friends, Kelsey said “I was really shocked how quickly everyone came together and the friendships that were made. Most of us are quiet, introverted people and now we hang out every single day”

The Esports team has had a great start and it’s future is bright. Teamwork, many interpersonal skills and friendships have all developed, only adding to the proof that this is an amazing opportunity now offered at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.

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Kelsey Pagel, Esports coach

Meet The Coach

My name is Kelsey Pagel. I am the overall captain and coach of the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Esports team. My gamertag, or screen name, is Lumen. For the last two years I was on the Overwatch and Call of Duty rosters for our in-season games.

Outside of the esports team, I play games on any one of my consoles, including my Gameboy (can’t beat the classics!) I enjoy anime, board games, artsy things, and going to conventions.

Prior to attending Southwest Tech, I was a pilot, which is still a huge passion of mine. You know what they say, “The sky’s the limit.” I graduated in May of 2022 with a degree from the IT-Network Specialist program.

My love of video games and technology was a driving factor for my involvement with starting the SWTC Chargers Esports team.

For me, esports is about more than just the competitive gaming; it’s about bringing people together with like-minded interests and building those friendships, harboring a teamwork mentality, and just enjoying the company of others with those same interests. That makes it so much better when you are competing because it is you and your team, win or lose, every time.

My competitive gaming started with StarCraft and League of Legends and it has only developed from there. I also enjoy Beat Saber in my free time. It’s like Guitar Hero but with lightsabers. How cool is that?!

I’m looking forward to more players joining and the season being full of fun and exciting games and experiences. Watching the players improve and build those relationships will be very fulfilling for me as a coach.

I’m happy to know that there will be returning players this year. They played over the summer, gaining that experience in game, getting those practice hours in, and preparing for the season to come. I’m looking forward to seeing how far the team will go this season.