SVSU Esports ‘pros vs. Joes’ fundraising event held to benefit First Ward Community Center

The power of Esports extends beyond gameplay, with participants fostering community partnerships and benefiting local youth through events like SVSU’s pros vs Joes competition. Vanguard Photographer | Cameron Sevilla

SVSU Esports held a “pros vs Joes” fundraising event to benefit First Ward Community Center on April 13. The event raised over $1000 for the organization.

The event was a competition between Esports Rocket League players and SVSU faculty. Donations were made in person and online through Twitch to sabotage the Esports team and give the faculty a fighting chance.

Jeremy Flood, Manager of Registered Student Organizations, spoke in depth about this event. He explains why First Ward Community Center was chosen as the beneficiary for the event.

“We’ve established a partnership with First Ward Community Center,” he said. “Pros vs Joes was the first event we’ve done with First Ward, but we have more planned for the future.”

First Ward Community Center describes itself as a “nonprofit agency [that] has been working to improve the quality of life for families and individuals.”

Flood explains his knowledge of the youth programs at First Ward Community Center:

“They provide after-school, recreational and social programs for youth in the city of Saginaw,” he said. “They work with a lot of low-income families and Esports isn’t always accessible to these families. For them to get Esports programs at the community center is really great so that youth that might not have access to those technologies at home can at First Ward.”

Flood said this collaboration took the event to the next level.

“We wanted to do this pros vs joes event, but we wanted it to be more than just playing some Rocket League,” he said. “We thought our partnership with First Ward Community Center would be a great vehicle to do something more with the event.”

He goes on to explain what the funding will go towards.

“We got together with Rob Brown who is the CEO of First Ward Community Center and planned this event to help establish some funds for First Ward as they try to get some esports programming of their own off the ground.”

The SVSU Esports team faces off against faculty in a thrilling Pros vs Joes event to raise funds for the First Ward Community Center. Vanguard Photographer| Cameron Sevilla

Flood was shocked at the level of engagement this event had and the amount of funding raised.

“My goal was between two and three hundred dollars so they could pick up a Nintendo Switch or something like that,” he said. “We ended up being very fortunate with the amount of generosity with the attendees and raised over $1000 for them, which was awesome.”

Flood said it was great to show what Esports is really all about.

“We’re really excited that people can see the power of Esports and how it is so much more than just playing video games,” he said. “It can be a really strong vehicle for these community partnerships and providing some support to local youth.”

Flood describes Esports at SVSU as having three branches. Community engagement, recreational opportunities, and the competitive team.

Recreationally, students are encouraged to use the computers during open gaming hours; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Competitively, Esports participates in five games; Rocket League, Valorant, League of Legends, Super Smash Brothers, and Overwatch 2.

Flood describes the reach of SVSU Esports and the community provided.

“We have around 60 students that are on the rosters for the competitive teams and over 200 students in the discord server,” he said. “A lot of students self-reported that Esports is their only or one of their only involvements at SVSU so I think a really powerful piece of this is that we are engaging students that are not being engaged by other co-curricular activities.”

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