NJCAAe creates esports pipeline to high schools

The junior college association's partnership with Generation Esports will provide a direct recruiting path for students interesting in video gaming.

Colleges and the organizations that represent them are a lot like many of the powerhouse teams that exist on their campuses – they never stop looking to recruit.

The more natural pipelines that can be created from secondary schools to higher education, the better. Creating those opportunities often means providing activities that pique student interest, ones that generate buzz and give even the most traditional universities the appearance of being hip and innovative.

Truth be told, many high school students don’t mind having a few bells and whistles thrown at them when looking at colleges, especially when it relates to technology and video games. Or a little breaking news that speaks their language. Like this:

On Tuesday, The National Junior College Athletic Association Esports,  announced it is partnering with Generation Esports, the platform that represents the largest contingent of high school gamers in the United States.

Why is this so significant?

Players looking at two-year schools will now have a natural progression to rise through the ranks and bring their skills to those JuCo campuses. Since esports also has the power of bringing along many others for the ride – in other roles and through club participation on campus – the NJCAAe has created a one-of-a-kind direct recruiting tool to reach a huge pool of students.

“We believe we have created the necessary connective tissue to make the transition from high school to community college even easier, thus ensuring new students will step on campus already highly engaged with their school’s extracurriculars,” says Jeff White, executive director of the NJCAAe. “The fact that they have a best-in-class platform that students will already be familiar with is just icing on the cake.”

The NJCAAe picked a worthy partner, as the Generation Esports platform has grown to more than 3,000 high schools and 85,000-plus members. It has even launched a Middle School Esports League this fall to pair with its other offerings.

“Generation Esports is honored to partner with the National Junior College Athletic Association Esports and share our knowledge, resources, and tools with their members,” said Mason Mullenioux, co-founder and CEO of Generation Esports. “Through this partnership, together we’ll continue minimizing the barrier of entry to learn more about and directly get involved in esports, for students in middle school all the way to college.”

Changing landscape

There have been a number of groundbreaking announcements in the past year from higher education institutions, conferences and organizations trying to capitalize on the clout of esports.

There have been partnerships deals with pro teams launched, textbooks created by industry insiders, new curriculums forged and tournaments held virtually, even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the groups that has been especially active has been the NJCAAe. After only two semesters of competition, it managed to boosted its membership to more than 60 schools. It also formed a pact with the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors and held one of the biggest, most successful collegiate esports events a few months ago, a 256-player NBA2K tournament.

The latest deal with Generation Esports puts the NJCAAE in a powerful  position.

According to Generation Esports, its member schools will receive professional insights to esports, including the “onboarding process of schools, teams and players, provision of game play rules, and administration of competition and branding tournaments.” The cohesion between the entities – with regular seasons, followed by postseason tournaments and national championships in the fall and spring semester – will intertwine seamlessly, as well.

Chris Burt is an editor and reporter for University Business and the program chair for the Academic Esports Conference and Expo. He can be reached at [email protected]

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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