What is your background at Cazenovia College?
I graduated from Whitesboro High School and came here as a student in 2015. My major was Visual Communications with a dual concentration in Graphic Design and Web Design. This school was close to home, but not too close. I didn’t want the overwhelming feeling of a large school. It had small class sizes and a nice small-town feeling. I liked the idea that I could get hands-on experience, especially with graphic design as a major, and be able to have one-on-one interaction with a professor so I could develop my skills.
How did you happen to take a job at the College?
In 2016, I qualified for a work-study job and found a position in ICT. I started working there and just fell in love with it. I’ve always been interested in computers. I was the family tech guy, but for some reason, I didn’t want to go to school for computers or fix them for a living. When I was ready to graduate in May, I saw this position was open and applied. I’m now the desktop support technician and work-study supervisor.
What are your everyday responsibilities?
I help support all the computers, PCs and Macs on this campus, and deal with any issues that pop up. I handle install requests for new programs, computer set-ups, printer set-ups, troubleshooting and diagnostics. We work by email, phone ticket systems, and now by Teams chats.
What do you find gratifying about the work you do?
I love the problem-solving aspect of it. It’s been enjoyable to see that you can make something work and it really feels good to be able to help people do their jobs. Helping with installations, on phone calls, it’s nice to fix something, and people think it’s magic. They just light right up because you solved their problem. It’s a lot of gratification when you can help them somewhat instantly.
How big a challenge was it for the ICT Team to support faculty and staff when COVID-19 forced everyone to begin working remotely?
That really put things into hyperdrive. That first month in March 2020, it was crazy when it all first went down. Due to the nature of the work, we worked mostly in person and on campus since late June or early July of 2020. Manning the phones on campus was also very critical to helping students and staff, along with providing desktop support.
How did you get involved in eSports, and what makes you passionate about it?
I’ve been doing this since I was a student, probably 2018. I actually built all the machines that are used in the eSports room. They are high-end computers with dedicated graphics cards and a high-end CPU and eSports certified monitors for ultimate visibility.
We are seeded in competition with multiple colleges across the U.S. – Clemson University at one point; Drexel; Rutgers; many schools nationwide participate in eSports competitions. It’s cool seeing a small school like Caz go up against a large school with maybe 50,000 students enrolled.
What do you enjoy about being an eSports coach?
The pandemic caused us to shift gears a bit, so it has been remote-based. We’re using a chatting app called Discord and we share screens and monitor performances for both practices and competition. Instead of going to an eSports arena, student competitors have had the machines in their rooms to manage social distancing and exposure, and I simply coach remotely.
It is literally a military simulation, and actually very interesting. We play a first-person shooter, military-centric game, with one side the attacker and the other the defender. In the game, we plant or diffuse bombs. I look for callouts; see something, say something. Communication is key to the game. As a coach it’s about observation. We have even brought in people with experience in the military to help out.
What don’t people understand about eSports?
eSports is competitive video gaming at a varsity level, on par with basketball, baseball, swimming, and lacrosse. It’s more than just a game; I think of it as a very complicated game of chess. Regard for eSports should be on what’s given to the game of chess. I think that will happen in the next five years due to the amount of revenue eSports brings in. It has become a multi-billion-dollar industry and it can be great recruiting tool for this College. I’ve already received much interest from prospective students across the nation who’ve applied to Cazenovia to be part of the eSports team and to come here to learn. I can see this turning into a monster of a recruiting tool. I foresee maybe 25 to 50 kids coming here every year for their education and primarily for the eSports opportunity.