Becoming a player on the Stephens Stars Overwatch team promises scholarships, friendships and the local hook-up on Ale 8 ginger-ale.

Eleven students tried out for the six available positions on the Stephens’ Overwatch team between Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, returning players are required to try out — though head coach Alyssa Tinker’s attention is on the new recruits.

“My focus is how they’re talking and communicating,” she said. ”We’re looking for people who are adaptable and coachable, pretty much what any sports coach looks for in a player.”

Thursday saw five recruits trying out for a spot on the team. One of the hopefuls was transfer Jaymes Clevenger. Though tryouts last just one-hour, Clevenger stayed and practiced through the entire night.

She had also been showing up to open-practices prior to the tryouts.

Even though Wednesday marked the first time Clevenger met Tinker, such dedication early on is the commitment Tinker is seeking out in players.

Clevenger would pass by the game room several times a day between classes last year, but one day decided to come in and see what all the hoopla was about. She asked friend and co-captain Shelby Thompson to show her how to play Overwatch and has been hooked ever since.

“I love that we play at Stephens. I feel like over-all, esports is male dominated. Women have kinda been under-represented in esports,”Clevenger said on some of her favorite things about the team. “Everyone has been super accepting and kind. It’s a great place to be.”

Thompson and returning player Kayla Mize also displayed their talents Wednesday for the new coach. Though veterans were still required to tryout, they play a huge role in assisting the coach in finding new talent and seeing how players might mesh in with the team.

Mize was a transfer last season, and returns for her second year as a member of the Stephens Overwatch team. She is a vocal leader for the team, and a connoisseur of Ale 8, a ginger-ale from the state of Kentucky.

The team became enamored with the drink after Tinker’s parents, Kentucky natives, brought the soda to the team the weekend prior to tryouts. Ale 8 became a major talking point between tryouts Wednesday.

Thompson joked about how the team was in the works with a sponsorship with Ale 8. She also runs the Stephens esports Twitter page.

There might be hope for the team, as a tweet raving about the soda received a like and re-tweet from Ale 8 themselves.

Ginger-ale aside, Thompson talks about the key thing she was looking at in the new recruits – positivity.

“People that get negative quickly affect how you play,” Thompson said. “Teams that get a negative mind-set.... you lose.”

Out of everything going on at the tryouts, there was one reoccurring theme: screaming, laugh-out loud laughter. Even with all the pressure one might feel being under the microscope of the coach. It goes to show the credit of the accepting and fun environment around esports that has made it the fastest growing sport in the US.

“I had my doubts coming in, but once I tried it was super accepting,” Thompson said. “Once you’re in... you’re in, you’re family.”

“There’s no outsiders in esports.”

Those who attended the tryouts will know by September 13 who will represent Stephens in the upcoming season. Pre-season play begins for the Stars in late September.

  • Sports reporter, spring 2019 Studying sports journalism Reach me at dcd9wc@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5720

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