Harrisburg University and Whitaker Center to Launch First Collegiate eSports Team



Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts (Harrisburg, PA) has entered a partnership to provide a new home to Harrisburg University’s varsity Esports teams.


On December 6th, in a joint press conference between Harrisburg University and the Whitaker Center,  it was announced that the Whitaker Center - Select Medical Digital Cinema would become the home stadium for Harrisburg University of Science and Technology Esports teams.


Located right in the middle of the city of Harrisburg, Whitaker Center is a multi-media hall with a giant screen 38 feet high and 70 feet wide, a powerful 5 channel, 20,000-watt surround sound system, and seating for 600. Harrisburg University’s esports teams will be able to use the center as their home stadium.


With this new partnership, Harrisburg University further strengthens its programs for collegiate Esports players. The school plans to offer 15 different full scholarships for students participating in collegiate Esports league, the first of its kind – and it means that Esports will be treated the same way as any other traditional collegiate sports such as football, basketball, and baseball.


It will further build another partnership with National Association for Collegiate Esports (NACE) and invest in coaching staffs and equipment, hoping to transfer Esports into a “crowd sports” - just like other traditional sports. The school announced that the program will be launched during the fall semester of 2018.


Several representatives including Ted Black, CEO of the Whitaker Center; Eric Darr, President of Harrisburg University; Michael Brooks, Executive Director of NACE; and Kevin Knocke, Vice-President of Esports at RektGlobal.


▲Eric Darr, the president at Harrisburg University


“We (HU) have spent the last 4 years running our Esports club with hundreds of students. I am happy to announce this partnership with Whitaker Center,” President Darr of HU announced. “I grew up playing video games in my basement, and I believe that Whitaker Center can serve as the basement to eSports. It will become the starting point of Esports.”


Ted Black, CEO of Whitaker Center, shared that feeling, “I am happy to announce this first-of-its-kind partnership. Intel is participating and sharing our vision, and we expect the synergy to grow and expand quickly. This will be the basis of big growth for the Whitaker Center.”


Interactive Media Professor Charles Palmer of HU added, “Harrisburg University has taken a big step to go beyond simply enjoying the game to build the future generation of gaming. The fact that one can walk from school to the center is a big strength of this partnership.”


He further shared his excitement for the new stadium by saying that “we started the program with a small window of opportunity, but this will go up to a whole another level. I am excited to see how it will grow.”


▲Ted Black, CEO of Whitaker Center


A student representative also came up onstage to share her views about the program and the facilities that she will directly get to experience. Amanda shared that she will be able to “grow more as a gamer through this Esports club” and that she “wishes to become a member of a professional team through club activities.”


Michael Brooks, the Executive Director of NACE, also shared his excitement about HU’s eSports program. At the same time, he pointed out that “people from around the world watch Esports more than they watch football. Instead of focusing on the competition by itself, the program should not forget about the educational side.” He also commented that “While MOBA games are dominating today’s Esports world, I hope Harrisburg University becomes a place where gamers who like FIFA or NBA are also included and welcomed”


Harrisburg University has recently become the 50th school to enroll in NACE, and it is the first to do so among mid-Atlantic schools. Whitaker Center is a non-profit agency located in Harrisburg, PA and was founded by Whitaker Foundation in September of 1999. The center is operated by donations and support from more than 300 enterprises, sponsors, and others who share the same goals and philosophy. 


▲Michael Brooks, Executive Director of NACE

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