NATCHITOCHES – Cody Ruiz, a senior at Holy Savior Menard High School in Alexandria, is Northwestern State University’s first scholarship signee for the university’s new competitive esports team. Ruiz signed March 3 and will play on NSU’s varsity Call of Duty team. He is the son of Jennifer Atwood and Chad Ruiz.
“I want to thank everybody who always pushed me to be the best and do the best I can. Without them I would not be where I am,” said Ruiz, who scored a 27 on the ACT and plans to major in psychology. He is believed to be the first student in Louisiana to be awarded a scholarship to play for a university esports team.
“We are proud that our first signee comes from Menard High School right here in Cenla,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “Cody is earning an esports scholarship on top of academic scholarships. It’s important to have a high GPA and ACT score and also be involved in extracurricular activities.”
Esports is competitive, organized video gaming with national and international competitions supported by a growing fan base and sponsors. Chance Creppel is coordinator of NSU Esports and heads up the competitive side of the program, organizing competitions for the NSU teams and the tournaments that will be held on campus in the future.
Northwestern State is affiliated with the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the governing body for college esports. Scholarship students on NSU’s Esports Team must maintain a 2.5 grade point average.
NSU has taken the lead in esports in the Louisiana, recently opening a new state-of-the-art facility. The NSU Esports arena is home to one of the largest gaming experiences in the state. The space is designed for both competitive and recreational gaming and is free to all NSU students.
Maggio said NSU’s School of Business is currently developing a concentration in esports, as esports and gaming have burst into the mainstream in recent years and are fast becoming a central form of entertainment around the world. The industry expected to grow exponentially over the next decade as competitive video games continue to integrate into popular culture.
Creppel said he plans to host a combine for high school juniors and seniors to play games and learn more about esports at NSU. Students interested in joining a team should visit www.nsula.edu/esports or contact Creppel at firstname.lastname@example.org.