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Skippers Esports looks to continue its success in the fall

SKippers play Rocket League

The St. Clair County Community College Esports team found tremendous success in its inaugural season, claiming three top-four finishes this past April in the National Junior College Athletic Association Rocket League and Super Smash Bros. tournaments.

Skippers Jarod Graham and Mitchell Lumpford finished second in the country in the doubles for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Graham finished fourth in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate single player tournament. Kylar Marinez, David Roy and Philip Winterbauer finished fourth in the country in Rocket League.

The teams were launched in the fall, and through their first season continued to grow under the direction of coach James "Jimmer" Jordan. When COVID-19 closed campuses throughout the country cancelling other sports, SC4 Esports team members were fortunate enough to have their own systems at home so they could continue the season.

Each of the players began Esports at different ages, some using the Nintendo 64 console when they were younger than 10 years old, while other team members picked up on video games in junior high school. Most stated they really began taking Esports seriously late into high school, and one just a few months before when they joined the Esports team.

"I never really took competing in games seriously or thought that I had a chance. When some of my friends talked to me about playing for SC4, I decided to give it a try," Winterbauer said. "It was a cool opportunity to get involved with Esports through my college, with a professional-level coach to mentor us and really step our game up to the next level."

Winterbauer said he began the season at a low rank in Rocket League and in the past four months has climbed three ranks while competing for the Skippers.

"Anybody is capable if you put your mind to it," he said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, why not give it your all? Maybe you'll find your calling."

Being on the team and competing together helps with real-world skills.

"(Esports) helped me improve and grow relationships and learning abilities. It teaches you diligence – to do things the right way, every time, even if it is harder that way when you first start," Marinez said. "Things like that are really going to help me in the future and transfer over to job training."

Added Graham: "It gives you the feeling of always wanting to do your best, not just for you but for the college, too."

With a stay-at-home order in place, playing at home for the remainder of the playoffs wasn't quite the same as the team atmosphere they have in the facilities at the college. The team had formed a family-like bond over the last few months.

"Competing with this team, and for the college, really gives it purpose for me," Roy said. "It's different than playing alone."

Most of the team plans to come back next season, except for sophomore Mitch Lumpford, who completed his Associate of Arts degree at SC4 and will be continuing his education at Oakland University in the fall.

Jarod Graham, Mitch Lumpford, Kylar Marinez, David Roy and Phil Winterbauer