Bulletin Staff Report

When the Patrick Henry Community College’s eSports team kicks off the fall season, it will be under the leadership of a new head coach, the school announced Monday. The Patriots are hiring Martinsville native Nick Haley to be the college’s new eSports head coach.

Haley has more than a decade of competitive gaming experience. His experience in the gaming industry also includes streaming, building gaming computers, and having a working knowledge of programming languages. Haley earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Averett University in 2018.

“I’m extremely thankful and excited for the opportunity to become the head coach and coordinator of eSports at PHCC,” Haley said in a release by the school. “I will work to create an environment for students to grow athletically and academically, and to prepare them for professional and personal success.”

The school announced they would be starting an eSports program earlier in the year, and and held an open house in February to show off the team’s gaming arena, paid for in part by a sponsorship with Mid-Atlantic Broadband, and recruit new team members. PHCC Athletic Director Brian Henderson said at the time that the new team shows how the school is always trying to be more creative.

“One thing that we try to do here at Patrick Henry is be innovative,” Henderson said at the open house in February. “We see the world is going to sports and technology and putting those two together. We wanted to put all three together: sports, technology and academics.”

The team began as a club at the school during the spring semester, and will officially compete as a sanctioned team starting this fall.

Competitive gaming has become the fastest-growing spectator sport in the world. At PHCC, the team is growing fast too. This fall, the ePatriots will have teams playing the popular games Fortnite, Rocket League, Overwatch, and League of Legends. Just as it is with traditional sports at PHCC, players must try out for a seat on the team and must maintain a 2.5 GPA as full-time students.

“Adopting eSports at PHCC allows students the opportunity to grow and compete in a great number of ways, and it is a vehicle for technologically-savvy students to put their skills to work,” Henderson said in a release. “This puts our Patriots in a great position in a growing technology world, and we couldn’t be happier to have Mr. Haley leading the charge.”

Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.