Over half of the Albion College student body participates in one of 23 varsity sports teams on in campus. The college places an emphasis on competing at a high level in the NCAA Division III while also excelling each day in the classroom.
The vast number of student-athletes on campus have a multitude of backgrounds, including many unique players that often go unnoticed. Due to COVID-19 last school year, athletes had to move all fall sports to the spring for competitions. This year with COVID-19 restrictions being let up, athletes are able to have more of a ‘normal’ fall season.
In light of that and in order to truly appreciate all of the student-athletes who make up Albion athletics, The Pleiad’s “Beyond the Spotlight” series features a different athlete and the impact they have had on campus.
Featured in this week’s “Beyond the Spotlight” is Vincent Bristo, Houston senior, or as he’s known on the game Rocket League, @RealSchpill. Bristo is a political science and sociology double major who came to Albion for the educational opportunities it presented to him. He had already been an Albion student when the esports team arrived at the beginning of the 2021 fall semester.
“I heard about it over the summer, the emails that we received detailing the esports team arriving, so when I saw that I was like, ‘yeah, I gotta jump on that,’” said Bristo.
Bristo believes that he has learned a lot about himself from playing a collegiate sport over the past year.
“My competitive nature has really shown itself, I feel like participating in this is a blessing,” said Bristo. “I appreciate the honor of being able to be a part of this team, I’ve really been able to show that. And I’ve really been able to allow that to help dictate how matches go for the team.”
With the stigma surrounding esports as a less recognized sport, Bristo feels it is viewed in a different spotlight than other older, more time-tested collegiate sports.
“I think esports doesn’t have that same respect as traditional sports,” said Bristo. “It’s understandable, we aren’t physically sweating and doing all the physical conditioning, things that a traditional sport would have. But at the end of the day, it’s still a sport, we’re still competing at high levels, like any other sport here. So I definitely think there is a divide within the sports, but, just give us some time, we’ll definitely help close that gap.”
Esports is a new sport, both for Albion College and in the world of athletics. However, Bristo believes that the Albion esports team is going through the normal and traditional growing pains for any up-and-coming sport.
“With anything that’s relatively new, you’re gonna have your negative moments and the hitches along the way,” said Bristo. “But I feel like the longer or the more that we’ve been able to be in the lab and play as a team and just learn from each other, I feel like our team chemistry is just really building to the level that I think all of us are enjoying.”
Bristo believes that the transition between playing video games for fun versus playing competitively is not one to be taken lightly.
“I believe that playing video games for fun, you typically just goof off, it doesn’t really matter the outcome of it. Either you win, or you lose, and you just keep going about your day,” said Bristo. “But I feel like the biggest difference, when you go to competitive gaming, you typically raise your level of gaming, and you focus more, you actually want to play the most competitive way you possibly can play.”
Bristo feels that in their eight week season, he has helped foster a productive and exciting atmosphere within his team. He also believes there are two key things that help to push a team forward: leadership and mindset.
“My leadership and the mindset that I bring is simply just because [they] are [the] two things you always want [in a team],” said Bristo. “You always want to get better as a team and you always want to win while getting better as a team. So I feel like the mindset alongside these two values, alongside the leadership that I bring, you know, alongside the morale that I also bring to the team, I feel like it really helps boost our chances of winning, essentially.”
Traditionally in any college sport, heavy practice loads are expected. However, since esports involves activities that can be done year round and indoors, their 12-hour a week practice schedule is lengthier than most college athletic practices.
“Practices are fun, very fun. I know that people know that they are longer than your average practice,” said Bristo. “But at the end of the day, like I always tell people, if you work at a job, and you like that job, is it really considered work. So that’s just the mindset that you put forward, that we put towards gaming, you know, we enjoy every last hour of gaming here. We get better throughout the three, four practices throughout the week. And typically, it just shows when we go against higher skill competition.”
Traveling for a competition is commonplace for any college sports team, and that has become one of Bristo’s most fond memories of his season with the team.
“My favorite memory right now so far, was the fact that we went to Western Michigan University and we got to see their esports arena,” said Bristo. “It was so beautiful. That right there just highlighted the fact that I made it to the collegiate level. And I made it to where I wanted to go, because I always felt like I deserve to be in this environment in the spotlight. So I’m just glad I was able to experience that, and also, I’m glad I’m able to showcase it.”
The Albion College Rocket League esports team has concluded their 2021 season on Tuesday. They look forward to competing again in 2022.
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