Esports hosts 12-hour livestream for Loyola Loyal Day fundraiser


Brendan Heffernan

Freshman Kaleb Moore moderates the chat of the esports team’s fundraising Twitch stream on March 22, 2023.

Brendan Heffernan, Staff Writer

When most groups on campus need cash, they plan a bake sale, a car wash, or set up a secondhand shopping event. The Wolf Pack esports team just did what they already do best.

The team put on a 12-hour marathon gaming live stream from noon to midnight on March 22 as part of the university’s Loyola Loyal Day fundraising drive. The program, which is finishing up its first year on campus, raised $699 to help purchase updated jerseys and new equipment for the program’s facility located on the ground floor of the Danna Center, according to head coach Lumen Vera.

The stream appeared on the Loyola esports Twitch channel, which the team also uses to broadcast its matches. The show featured interviews with esports student-athletes, a raffle, a hot sauce tasting challenge, and hours of gaming as members of the program worked to drum up donations by showing off what makes the organization a unique part of Loyola’s campus.

“This is a place for you to build yourself,” Vera said with a mouth full of ghost pepper hot sauce during the stream’s first hour.

Events like the Loyola Loyal Day stream not only raise the team’s profile, but also gives participating students the chance to build versatile professional skills like digital production, social media marketing, and information technology, Vera said.

“For you to run something on Twitch, it’s not as easy as pressing a button,” Vera said. “It pushes your value when you can show companies that you know how to build a community and build a market. That opens up opportunities for you.”

Roslyn Chin, the programs’ community manager who Vera credits most with spreading the word about the team on campus, was much more interested in tabletop gaming when she first got involved. Both her interest in PC gaming and her leadership skills have blossomed since she started working with the team.

“I’ve learned a lot about communicating, outreach, being able to set up an event, and being able to manage this amount of craziness,” said Chin, a chemistry senior. “It’s gotten me a lot of hands-on work experience that I wouldn’t have gotten just by working in the chemistry department.”

Loyola’s esports team features 20 student-athletes and fields competitive teams in Overwatch 2 and Super Smash Bros, with plans to compete in several more events next year. Many students are involved with the program in other capacities, and the team’s Discord server currently has 481 members who receive updates about the program.

The esports facility has 20 PC gaming rigs, a few Nintendo switches, and plenty of comfortable seating on-hand for student-athletes and others passing through. All Loyola students are free to use the facility’s resources on Fridays during the room’s community hours.

While Wolf Pack esports is a varsity athletic program that awards scholarships and competes for championships, Vera said fostering a community that’s welcoming to all students, regardless of experience, is central to the program’s mission.

“The biggest thing that I really try to push forward with students here is that I don’t care if you don’t know how to play games. Just come in,” Vera said. “There’s nothing to be intimidated by.”

Overwatch team captain Zach Sutherland said he’d never even played a video game on a PC before joining the team. Sutherland has worked hard to get up to speed, and now thrives as a healer in competition.

“The skill ceiling isn’t blocked by your physical body, so as much as you put into it is as much as you can grow,” said Sutherland, a political science senior. “It’s time-consuming, but I’d just be playing video games anyway, so it’s feeding my addiction.”

While the program has room for students who want to compete at the varsity level, the social aspect of the team may be just as valuable. Sara Candia, a public relations senior, the program’s social media coordinator, and the Super Smash Bros team’s manager, said that she’s seen the esports team build a space where students who felt pushed aside on campus now feel like they belong.

“This space is welcoming them and saying ‘you’re not weird, and even if you are, come anyway,’” Candia said.

While the fundraiser met its initial goal, Chin said the school needs to keep investing to grow this vibrant community.

“The school needs to give us more money,” she said. “And maybe another room.”