eSports adviser prepares players for future

Coach inspires students despite lack of hands-on assistance


Isaac Wahl

E-Sports coach Jacob Utities teaching his 5th hour class, A+ Computer Tech II, on Feb. 20. eSports will begin practice again in March.

Lukas Levin

According to coach Jacob Utities, Park’s eSports team will play online in Nationals in June after an undefeated season. However, Utities said he still struggles with managing and expanding team.

“I can’t really devote much time to each team because there are nine teams, and I am one person,” Utities said.

Utities said most of his players’ success last season derived from the fact that two of his nine eSports teams made it to playoffs allowing  him to allocate more time and energy to the teams. Yet, sophomore eSports player Joseph Lindstrom said Utities still manages to work closely with each team member to foster an outstanding team performance.

“Mr. Utities is a good coach for the team as he is an energetic and responsible person who can relate with students about video games. He pushes us to try, and (he) sees the value in each individual player,” Lindstrom said. “He helps us with team or game related issues and does all that any other coach would.”

Utities said he has an online chat where the players use microphones on their headsets to communicate with him.

“When a player is doing their practices they have to be in the (chat), and that’s how I monitor to make sure they’re doing their practices and their time,” Utities said. “I make sure that I vocally tell them what to do and then the team captains enact the strategy I delegate to them.”

Unlike traditional sports, Utities said eSports players can only perform well when they are composed and focused.

“Adrenaline is not important. In eSports, you want to be level-headed. It’s a brain game. eSports is sports, but it is a sports of the brain not a sports of the body,” Utities said.

Senior Graham Campbell said Utities teaches his athletes how to be polite and respectful while still remaining unbeaten.

“He keeps our team, not just me, as humble champions since we are from Park and it’s the first anyone’s ever even heard of SLP eSports program,” Campbell said.

Utities said he created the eSports team because it combines two of his biggest passions into one outlet for students.

“I decided to coach because I am super passionate about video games and teaching. Now I get to coach video games, are you kidding me? Could this job get any cooler? It’s something that could be a real legacy of mine in Minnesota,” Utities said.

Utities said he appreciates eSports because it allows students who may not have a voice in other activities to be heard.

“My favorite thing about eSports is it gives the kids that are underrepresented a chance to become involved,” Utities said. “I’ve always stuck up for the nerds of the school who never get celebrated. Now I have a group of them that everybody is talking about.”

According to Lindstrom this program has provided him with the confidence he may not have had before joining.

“eSports has opened up the fact that I don’t have to be frightened to say I love playing video games in front of others,” Lindstrom said. “I like the games (and) the people who I probably would not be friends with now without (eSports).”

Utities said eSports should be seen as a fun activity that should cultivate companionship and determination in every student involved.

“Whether you win or lose you’re having fun, building confidence and making friends. They’re building real world skills by playing a game. That is what I think is the coolest part,” Utities said.

According to Utities, eSports season will begin again in March. Utities said he wants to help students get scholarships and possibly recruited by colleges during this time.