The legacy leader
Graves discusses her journey with the club, its future, and the impact OU Esports has had personally — and on campus.
The OU Esports Club began in fall 2017, and so did Jasmine’s journey at OU. The club was still unrecognized by OU at this time, even as a competitive club. Its engine only burned because of the drive and spirit behind OU students. Jasmine Graves, undoubtedly, was one of those students, securing a founding spot in leadership in her freshman year.
Graphics by Zachary Satz.
Graves, class of 2021, is a student of the Price College of Business pursuing her undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems. “I was the Twitch/Social Media Director for my freshman year,” President Graves said in an interview “then just the Twitch Director for the first semester of my sophomore year, then the VP the other half.” This illustrates some of the turbulence of the organization in its beginning stages. The club had to scrap what didn’t work — and strengthen what did. Doing this bolstered its leaders, Jasmine included.
OU Esports directly impacts students. Esports is growing exponentially, and it is built on business. Recruiters know this, too. “Whenever I was interviewing for internships last year, most of the recruiters knew about esports and we talked about my experience.” Graves mentioned.
Jasmine aims to find a job in the gaming industry, though it is not a requirement. She noticed that “It definitely showed me the number of opportunities there in esports and gaming.” Esports club experience is clearly relevant to the industry, but there is an indirect element that applies to other careers. Graves points out that “the leadership experience has definitely helped me get noticed.”
The club serves several goals. A crucial pillar is community and outreach. After all, OU Esports is now under Student Affairs. This is a key element for President Graves as well, stating “I think my favorite part is how the club can impact so many different people in different ways.” The club enables people to make friends, develop their community through gaming nights, and support the community via charity events.
A community is not truly supported unless it uplifts even its minorities. The esports & gaming industry in particular has struggled with this and has been written about before here. ”The club can always support underrepresented demographics by making it clear that they have equal access to the opportunities in the club,” Jasmine said on uplifting disadvantaged groups, “and that we do not tolerate any toxicity, especially in regards to people’s identities.”
Sponsors & Alumni
Alumni have special opportunities within OU Esports. This includes continued access to the OU Esports Discord with an Alum banner. Jasmine still plans to be involved with the university and club this way, stating, “Luckily, alumni are able to participate in a lot of events and opportunities with the club, I will try and drop in when I can.” The continued support of alumni will remain important to the organization’s mission, as they serve as examples of how OU Esports has impacted students. For example, Sarah Enders is a previous OU Esports member who went on to directly work for Team Liquid.
Aligned with alumni are the sponsors, who OU Esports will need great help from in the coming years to sustain its mission.
“Sponsors should be interested because esports is the real deal. Our university sees the value in it by legitimizing us.” Jasmine said, referencing the club becoming the OU Department of Esports & Co-Curricular Innovation. “The number of members we have has shown the interest in esports at OU. There’s a lot of room for esports to grow, especially at OU, and we need help from sponsors to do so.”
In her final notes about the club and department, Jasmine acknowledges that the two will have similar goals but different tools. “I hope that the club focuses on developing and fostering the community aspect of esports and gaming at OU,” says Graves “ To keep focusing on developing opportunities and maintaining a welcoming space for all gamers. That’s what our club is based upon and I think sticking to it will help esports & gaming grow in a positive way at OU.” For the department, its focus should be aligned with academic developments, increasing competitive ranks, and working with OU administrators to advance even further.
Finally, Jasmine Graves has a message for the community.
”Thank you for letting me help lead the club for the last 4 years. I appreciate everyone who’s been a part of the club in any form because we wouldn’t have gotten to where we are without everyone who has been involved. Keep doing what you’re doing, I can’t wait to see what else you all do after I graduate. (But since I’ll be involved after I graduate, I technically have no final message :P)Jasmine Graves