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The Awesomeness of Empowering Students

For the past three years, I’ve dreamt, ate, worked, slept, etc esports development at The University of Oklahoma. Before I met the first student that would be involved in helping, I told myself that I wanted to create an opportunity for students to take ownership and buy-in to the vision and mission of this project. For the first 2 years, I struggled to let go of the reigns because of time commitment concerns, dedication, and balancing our push along with the political landscape of the university at various times. In the last year, my initial dream of creating peers out of students has become more and more realized. Out of our six developmental pillars (Leadership, Community, Media & News, Shoutcasting, Streaming, Competition), Leadership, are the future executives of esports and gaming organizations. They are tasked with business operations and I want to share as well as express some pride in what our student leadership team was able to handle this past week while I was away for a week with limited connectivity.

Being the middle of the Fall semester, student workloads in academics are now full tilt, other extracurriculars have scaled up, and they have developed their rhythm at this point. We currently have about 6 events in development all for Oct/Nov. The Community Department and its roster of ambassadors constantly work to secure logistics, itinerary, allocate resources for events, and gain approvals to lock in the details. We had students reaching out to vendors for sponsorships, locking down spaces to facilitate programming, working on agendas to ensure the events are well-rounded and tap the shoulder of our marketing director to get the word out.

Additionally, our competitive and shoutcasting departments worked quickly to coordinate the first-ever “Red River Clash” our take on the historic OU versus TX rivalry in League of Legends and Overwatch. Syncing rosters, getting student information from both schools to our analysts, and building overlays, securing journalists, and also tapping the shoulder of the marketing director to get the word out was almost completely handled by student leadership. Additionally, the community department was also looped into to secure a space for a watch party. Meanwhile, members of our leadership team served as moderators to ensure our Longhorn guests experienced a good communication experience on our Twitch channel. Look for a separate article on the results from this as well as the video replay. The shoutcasting director even casted Overwatch, which is not his strength, but our roster of OW analysts had a series of unfortunate events that kept them from participating.

51 Fridays out of the year we host our Smash Brothers weekly in a venue that is supposed to be scheduled and secured, but for one reason or another this past week the venue booked another organization in our usual space without any notice. This caused our smash ambassadors to frantically work to find a place to relocate this 50-70 attendance event. This happened within 10 minutes of the OUTX rivalry kick-off too. They worked the problem, moved the location, and still had their event.

Finally, additional events secured food vendors, academic entity partnerships, and have built robust agendas for upcoming events almost all focused on philanthropy as we enter into November. Members of leadership are also preparing to present to OU’s department of admissions and recruitment as well as OU’s department of development. These are VP level meetings. At this time, we are still not fully university endorsed, but we are well on our way this school year. As my yet to be published TEDx talk about higher education development opportunities in esports will state, I wanted to empower students to have a voice in this, have a presence, be taken seriously, and ultimately assist not from behind me, but standing right next to me, as my peers. What we’ve created is a well-rounded, adaptive, and proactive leadership infrastructure that will function as the business operations of an esports organization just like you’d find in any professional sector. Imagine having a team that can keep the ship moving and even expand it without your full presence. As I’m being pushed more and more into networking outside of the university, I now have zero hesitations of leaving the operations in the hands of my extremely capable student leadership.

My students are executing in a diverse way that moves past just top-level event coordination and competitive energy development. Their resumes are getting stacked. To say I’m proud of my students is an understatement. WE WILL create professionals for this industry. WE WILL create comprehensive and compelling arguments in academia. WE WILL fuel our state and region with this topic and WE want everyone to come along for the ride and be involved as long as you understand that this topic as a whole is bigger than you or I. Think big, aim big, execute big!

Mike "Moog" Aguilar

Mike "Moog" Aguilar is the Director of Esports & Co-Curricular Innovation at OU. He also works for OU IT doing project management and business analysis as well as an adjunct instructor for the Gaylord College of Journalism & Mass Communication. He is a US Army veteran, has worked for Apple, worked in the public sector, and is a photographer of two decades. Mike has been a gamer since the Atari in the 80s and has been pioneering esports and gaming development and innovation at OU since 2016.

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