Iona College Launches Esports Club to Compete in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Club Sports

Iona College has officially launched its esports club, staying true to the College’s brand promise to “Learn Outside the Lines.” The development of this competitive video game program encourages students to pursue their passions beyond the classroom while developing meaningful relationships around shared interests.

“Our decision to create an esports program was to help support student engagement and retention on campus, while meeting students where they are in terms of their interests,” said Matthew Grimaldi, director of Club Sports. “A lot of these students are passionate about STEM and computer science. Now they have a group of friends who share the same interests, and they can bring their skills to a competitive level. It’s really exciting.”

Iona completed renovations to its new esports room this summer, in preparation for students’ return for the Fall 2021 semester. The new room is fully equipped with computers, modems, gaming chairs and televisions that offer a quality student gaming experience. It was also a priority for the equipment to meet the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) standards as Gaels will become contenders once teams are formed. The structure of the competitions will feature teams facing off against one another while fans watch them play an organized, multiplayer video game.

A student gets ready to play a game in the esports room.

Esports is quickly gaining popularity in higher education. In 2016, the National Associate of Collegiate Esports (NACE) only had as few as six members and now has more than 170 participating colleges and universities nationwide.

“Esports being at Iona College is a game changer,” said David Valencia, Information Technology systems administrator and esports coach at Iona College. “The new esports club allows students to play their favorite games socially instead of having to go to their dorm room or home. Usually, students can only watch competitions on ESPN, but now Gaels will have a chance to compete against other colleges and universities.”

Iona’s esports team will play a variety of games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, FIFA, Overwatch, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Fortnite and Madden.

Founded in 1940, Iona College is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre campus is just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of over 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, a prestigious recognition awarded to just five percent of business schools worldwide. The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2021.” Iona College also recently launched a new, fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona College and NewYork-Presbyterian announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, to be principally located on the College’s new campus at 171 White Plains Road, Bronxville, N.Y. Supported by a $20 million gift from NewYork-Presbyterian, the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences is expected to offer a new vision for collaborative health care education, modern workforce development, and community care.