Esports Excellence - Cyrus Russ
Cyrus Russ, a long-time gamer and Senior Associate Athletic Director at Alcorn State University, has introduced a new era of athletics to the University.
Russ is optimistic about helping to change the face of this game, the potential to grow this program, and the benefits that students will receive as members of the Alcorn State University Esports program.“Esports as a competitive sport on the collegiate level is a multi-billion dollar industry that has been dominated by predominately white colleges and universities until recently,” said Russ.
Russ not only helps facilitate the esports program, he is responsible for bringing the program to the campus. He presented the idea for the program to the University President, Felecia Nave, and with her blessing, he proceeded to take leadership in the development and implementation of the Alcorn State University esports program.
“I went to my university’s president and she supported the idea, realizing the potential to increase enrollment, and one day incorporate a curriculum around the esports program among many other benefits, she thought it would be a great tool and another resource for our students,” said Russ. “That started the path to esports here at Alcorn, and as a result we developed the Brave Nation Esports Club in 2019, and we have experienced tremendous growth from there.”
This spring, Alcorn State University and other Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) schools have had the opportunity to compete in Rocket League and Madden 21 matches, facilitated by the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). This was made possible through a partnership between the organizations, announced in March of 2021.
Russ has been further impressed by the unexpected growth the program experienced during the pandemic. “I’m excited for my students, they have an opportunity to have a season this year, because last season was interrupted by COVID-19,” said Russ. “My expectation is they have fun, build some competitive skills, and build new relationships as they engage online with other schools and students across the nation.”
By design, esports operates within an online platform, meaning that unlike other sports that either had the seasons cancelled or experienced delays and interruptions, the inability to gather for in person events had no effect on the esports program and allowed for students to continue to compete without interruption.
“We’ve experienced a significant amount of growth, even during COVID-19, with our esports group,” said Russ. “Our goal now is to gain greater exposure on campus and have more of our students and the campus interested in esports. Growing popularity of the program on campus and in the regional area is one of our ongoing goals. I would like to see us add additional game titles, and with that growth attract more players.”
Watch the video linked below to learn more about Coach Russ’s expectations for Alcorn State University Esports program’s growth, or follow @BNeSports1871 on twitter to support the Alcorn State University Esports program.