Ready player won: How NOVA’s esports program found unexpected success during the pandemic – Alexandria Times

Ready player won: How NOVA’s esports program found unexpected success during the pandemic – Alexandria Times

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By Cody Mello-Klein | cmelloklein@alextimes.com

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Northern Virginia Community College, like all institutions across the country, had to reevaluate everything it was doing. Classes moved online, facilities shut down and sports were completely cancelled.

However, while most of NOVA’s athletes languished in limbo, some students continued to play through the pandemic as though nothing had changed. The pandemic, which spelled disaster for the majority of NOVA’s athletics program, catapulted the college’s competitive video game, or esports, program into the limelight.

At a time when the physical clashing and crashing of bodies on the field was suddenly a potential super spreader, the virtual nature of esports proved a boon. Instead of strapping on pads, helmets and cleats, NOVA’s 51 digital warriors took to their computers, logged in and played on.

They built sky-high towers out of wood and metal in the heat of battle, controlled rocket-powered
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