Catawba College Esports Students and Director Honored by ECAC Esports

Members of Catawba College’s Esports team and director have been recognized by the ECAC.

Gidd Sasser, Catawba’s Esports Program founding head coach and current director of Esports has been recognized as Director of the Fall 2023 season.

“In 2018 Catawba College launched the first varsity Esports Program in the state of North Carolina and we were fortunate to hire Gidd Sasser,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Jared Tice. “Since this time, Gidd has led the program to multiple championships, including an Overwatch 2 ECAC championship in Fall 2023. More importantly, the Esports Program has grown from 12 to nearly 50 varsity student-athletes. The Esports Program is highly visible, engaged, and involved across campus with resident assistants student government, and orientation leaders. In addition to his directing and coaching, Gidd serves on various esports committees and is a valued member of our Title IX team and on-call emergency response team.”

Since its inception, Catawba’s Esports program has won 672 games/maps, participated in 32 playoffs, won five championships, and one national championship.

According to one of Catawba’s Esports team members, “Gidd has spent day and night working with each and every team, teaching about the game, researching other teams, giving us the tools we need to succeed, and being a friend and mentor to all of us. The Catawba esports team would not be anywhere close to as successful if it weren’t for Gidd’s hard work and dedication to each team and the players. As a player on Overwatch, I can confidently say that we would not have had an undefeated season and secured the championship if it was not for Gidd being the best coach we could ask for.”

Zac Smith is the ECAC’s Overwatch 2 Outstanding Player of the Season. Smith is a Junior Psychology major at Catawba College. On their Overwatch 2 team, Smith largely contributed to the team’s accomplishments with his dedication and effort. Formerly a console player, he continued to play his heart out every game, maintaining phenomenal stats despite the switch to a new platform. His hard work paid off, increasing his lead to secure the championship gold in the ECAC Overwatch 2 Contenders division this Fall 2023 season, his second championship in as many years.  

The VALORANT Outstanding Rookie of the Season is Catawba’s Hanna Buck. In Buck’s first season at Catawba College, she ended with a top 8 placement in the ECAC VALORANT Contenders division. Throughout the semester, Buck put in countless hours each day, studying, and working with coaches and on her own to improve her rank and skill. Buck played in over 300 rounds as a rookie, taking on increased leadership roles mid-match without hesitation.

Kirill “Slezkin” Camp has been named the Overwatch 2 Player of the Month for December. As the lone tank player on the roster, Camp was asked to step up, learn, re-learn, and maintain a high level of skill and understanding of Overwatch 2 all season long. Camp arrived ready to work and put in maximum effort every day. This is reflected strongly in the Overwatch team’s success this season. Camp’s gameplay and great teamwork allowed his teammates to shine throughout the season, ending with a championship victory. Camp additionally made the ECAC Academic Honors with a 3.5 GPA.

ECAC also recognized Matthew “LilTimmy” Peeler as December’s League of Legends Player of the Month. Peeler, in his first year of ECAC competition, role swapped to jungle. Peeler quickly adjusted to the new role, studying, and practicing every day. His ability to adapt and grow helped the Catawba League of Legends team reach the finals for the ECAC League of Legends Rivals division, who took home the silver this season. Peeler has been an instrumental part of the team, playing both carry and tank roles in the jungle seamlessly. Peeler additionally made the ECAC Academic Honors list with a 3.9 GPA.

Eighteen Catawba students made the list of the ECAC’s Academic Honorees for the Fall 2023 semester. To be eligible, each student must carry a grade point average of 3.2 or higher for the semester. In addition to Camp and Peeler, students include Caleb Townsend (Overwatch 2), Carter Mayhew (VALORANT), Dawson Brown (VALORANT), Gabriel Vasquez (League of Legends), Hannah Buck (VALORANT), Ivan Ontiveros (Overwatch 2), Kyle Rock (VALORANT), Noah Haberacker (League of Legends), Rhyne Thorton (Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), and RJ Carrasco (Super Smash Bros. Ultimate).

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