The ins and outs of collegiate esports

By Katelin Hudson

The charcoal black and crimson red t-shirt fitted jerseys, complete with the University of Oklahoma logo, hang off the shoulders of 6 individuals. While the team might not be as widely known as the OU football team, the league their team competes in is known in smaller circles for its extensive prize lists for winning teams.

This team is lead by Joseph Savala, a 23-year-old OU graduate. Although he is unable to play sports at OU due to the fact he has already graduated, Savala still finds a way to interact with collegiate athletics, which he does through coaching the OU Esports Club and Sooner Esports Team.

Spending roughly 12 to 18 hours a week coaching League of Legends players for free, Savala must balance his time with a 40 hour a week paid job as a childrens specialist for the Department of Human Services. 

But Savala doesn’t mind putting in the time; in fact, he enjoys it.

“I’ve stayed as a coach for so long because I love doing it,” Savala said. “It’s really great to see all of these people with similar interests come out of their shells and grow – not only as people, but also as a team. It’s pretty great.”

League of Legends, or LoL for short, is a multiplayer online battle arena video game that is highly competitive. LoL is one of the five games that the Sooner Esports Team allows; the other four include: Overwatch, Counter Strike Global Offensive, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

These games are recognized as official esports games due to several different factors. 


Top esports games must be simple enough for new players to understand, while also being challenging enough to master so that longtime players can continuously grow. Additionally, high player numbers also have a lot to do with esports games. Freemium style games, such as LoL, can help to boost player numbers because players do not have to buy these games to play them. Equal playing fields and games with definitive winners also key because it means that players can’t have special advantages even if they are a higher level. Lastly, spectator appeal is an equally important factor. A game that is fun to watch increases a game’s chances of breaking into the top esports games. 

Esports as an industry has seen rapid growth over the past three years. In 2017, the global esports market was valued at $655 million. In just one year this value grew to $865 million in 2018. With this quick growth expected to continue, the number is estimated to grow to roughly $1.79 billion by the year 2022. 

One factor that aids in esports’ extensive following is the addition of streaming. Streaming schedules allow players to put themselves and their gaming skills out there for potentially massive audiences. 

Streaming has allowed gaming to transform from a niche, household hobby to an entire industry with a growing fan base.

In fact, OU Esports Club has its own Stream Team; which according to Matthew Miller, Streaming Entertainment Director, OU is one of the few college esports clubs with a dedicated team.

“The Stream Team is important because we fundraise money for the club as a whole,” Miller said. “Our little team helps by providing an additional revenue stream, while also (acting) as an advertising platform for our internal events and activities.”

But, the Stream Team is also important for community building.

“Stream Teams are so important for esports leagues because they also show a side of esports that isn’t just about competition,” Miller said.


For many within college esports teams, it’s less about the potential revenue and more about the sense of community players feel from being a part of esports. 

According to Alexander Westphal, known as “Xander of Astora” within the gaming community,  the OU Esports Club helped him break out of his shell and find the friends he was searching for.

“When I first came to OU, I was considering joining a fraternity for the camaraderie, but that sort of environment didn’t really suit me, but I found what I was looking for in the esports club and with my team,” Westphal said.

The esports community at OU is large. With roughly 500 members and counting, the OU Esports Club is home to many on OU’s campus who share an affinity for playing video games. While many of these friendships are supported through online servers, many friendships are maintained even outside of set meeting times.

“Being part of the community, specifically the competitive side, has affected me positively, as I’m currently sharing an apartment with one of my teammates who has since become one of my best friends,” Westphal said. 


A specific room for the University of Oklahoma Esports Club and Sooner Esports has yet to be assigned or constructed, but that doesn’t deter members from meeting. Members either meet at other members houses or, more commonly, online. 

With one click on the bluish purple hue of the Discord app icon, players are able to connect with others through voice chats, game invites and instant messaging without leaving the house.

Members must be on Discord roughly 12 hours a week. They meet after their classes, after work and after meals. And missing is not an option – not logging in counts as an absence, which members are only allowed three of.

While the name “esports” might come from a lack of a better word, esports certainly reflects many of the same ideologies that major sports emphasize.

Those who engage in esports competitively must put in a lot of time and effort to improve or even stay at the same level.

“In order to be on the competitive side of things, our teams must practice – there’s no way around it,” Savala said. “Coaches also have to stay on top of things too. They must know the ins and outs of a game, see where (players) are messing up and find ways to mediate that.”


The OU Esports Club and Sooner Esports team became officially licensed by OU at the beginning of 2019; which means they are able to use the OU logo on their website, at events and on their most recently designed esport jerseys.

As the esports industry continues to grow, more and more colleges are taking competitive online gaming more seriously, licensing teams and changing the way the esports conversation is handled.

As of Fall 2019, ten colleges across the country offer an esports major and minor program. Additionally, 54 colleges currently provide esports scholarships to top players.

Russel Hanks, a League of Legends CStar known as “Schiecenzoria,” believes esports growth will continue for years to come.

“It seems like more and more corporations are realizing that gaming is an unexploited land of potential profit,” Hanks said. “New streaming platforms bring gaming into the entertainment industries: which is one of the largest (industries) America has to offer. Because of (these two factors), I think this momentum will continue as the years go on.”

Story behind the story: Sara Radin

By Katelin Hudson

Sara Radin was always drawn to the arts. Growing up, she dabbled in drawing and creating intricate collages – so much so that she even decided to attend college for a fine arts degree. But somewhere in the middle of school, she realized that although she adored the arts, but didn’t want to become a fine artist herself.

Leaving the University of Michigan with a BA in arts, but no desire to become an artist, Radin entered into the fashion industry. From there she had a few more odd jobs and internships ranging from cataloging fashion trends for small businesses to concept design for Converse. 

Somewhere in the mix of these jobs she decided to start a blog and circle back to what interested her the most: art.

In her free time, Radin found unique artists within the community and would interview them for her blog. Through this she found that she enjoyed talking to people. She loved making connections with artists and learning about the meanings and processes that went into their work. 

“Through my blog I kind of realized that writing was a really cool way for me to connect with people and myself,” Radin said. “It’s the perfect medium to express myself, while shining a light on other people.”

Between her odd jobs, Radin ended up finding a connection that allowed her to write for a streetwear fashion publication called HighSnobiety. She wasn’t paid for this job, but she got addicted to the thrill of pitching ideas to people.

From there, Radin e-mailed random editors, trying to get her work out there however she could. She wasn’t paid for a majority of her early work, but eventually she was able to start making money as a freelance journalist.

In March 2018, Radin became a full time freelancer. Since then, Radin has written for Teen Vogue, New York Times, Paper, MTV News, I-D, Vice, Dazed Beauty and countless other publications. 

Although she has had her work featured in a broad array of publications, Radin has stayed true to her intent of original blog, which was to write about artists and their processes. 

In September 2018, she wrote a piece titled “The Chic Nail Brand Fighting Transphobia with Lobster Emojis.” The story highlights the absence of a transgender flag on the emoji keyboard and how those who identify as trans have adopted the lobster emoji as a placeholder.

“I find a lot of the artists for my stories through Instagram,” Radin said. “I just feel like I’ve always been this like sponge – I’m always like looking for what the new fashion or art trend is, and from there I just look for the deeper story.”

With this specific story, Radin recognized a sudden surge in lobster art and messaged a nail artist on Instagram. From there she made other connections until she filled in all the gaps in her story.

After she finished sourcing, Radin wanted to highlight the process of nail art while intertwining the political message behind the art throughout the story. In doing this, Radin wanted to make the story more approachable to those who may not have any background knowledge in art or transgender issues.

Radin says she usually gets positive feedback from her stories. While she attributes part of this to not really engaging in political writing, she also attributes this to her background in art.

“I think having a background in art has taught me to think like an artist,” Radin said. “I think I just have like an understanding of art making in a way that is not universally known, and I think that allows me to convey the processes to others.”

Radin went on to say that the best advice she can give to aspiring journalists is to not give up.

“Haha, I know that’s so cheesy, but it’s so true,” Radin said. “You can ever let the word ‘no’ stop you from getting your work out there. Just don’t give up, and be fearless.”

Is co-ed Greek life the inevitable future?

Katelin Hudson

Jacob Lee wakes up at 5:30 a.m. on most Saturday mornings with enthusiasm. While part of the reasoning for waking up early has to do with performing in the Pride of Oklahoma on University of Oklahoma game days, a bigger part has to do with helping his fellow bandmates through the Tau Beta Sigma sorority.

On these specific Saturdays, Lee typically lugs around a huge, red crate full of freshly made Picklemans’ sandwiches. He carries this crate throughout the OU stadium in between third and fourth quarter, passing out ham and turkey sandwiches to those in Pride.

“I know it sounds silly, but one of the biggest reasons I’m in TBS is so that I can pass out sandwiches,” Lee said. “I’m always looking for ways to give back to Pride since it’s provided me with so many opportunities, and TBS just allows me to do that.”

Since 1943, the National Honorary Band Sorority has been home to women who take pride in helping college music programs across the country. But starting in 2014, the sorority has welcomed co-educational membership, expanding their service efforts and allowing members like Lee to join. 

Co-ed membership across Greek organizations has been a major topic of consideration on many college campuses.

At a time when organizations are becoming all-inclusive; like the Boy Scouts changing its name to Scouts BSA, and with most college campuses featuring some form of mixed-gender dorms, the concept of gender separated social groups is becoming ancient.

In fact, many issues arise among the enforcement of gender separation. 

According to a study done by the University of Colorado in 2013, specific sorority rules – such as excluding women from throwing parties or having men in their houses – can result in enforced toxic gender roles. These roles can ultimately create an uneven number of sorority sisters in male-dominated spaces; making it easier for women to be excluded from major social spaces if they do not follow specific gender norms.

At OU, like at many colleges, Greek organizations play a big role in many students’ lives. In fact, more than 6,000 current students have joined a fraternity or sorority at OU in the fall of 2019 alone.

Of the 55 registered Greek organizations on OU campus, only two have co-educational membership. These organizations include TBS and Kappa Kappa Psi.

While all considered Greek organizations, the traditional Greek organizations like Panhellenic Association and the Interfraternity Council differ greatly from other types of chapters on campus, such as chapters within Independent Greek Council.

Outgoing Independent Greek Council president Lindsay Ross said that the main difference between the average person’s idea of Greek life and the actual dynamics of the IGC lies within what IGC chapters serve.

“The Independent Greek Council chapters are based on interests like music, STEM, religion, culture and service,” Ross said. “The Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council chapters are typically based on community building.”

PAC and IFC Chapters are more centered around social activities, which is why most of these Chapters have houses near OU campus. IGC Chapters; however, are based on interests or community service, and often meet in conference rooms on campus.

The overall purpose of the Independent Greek Council, Ross said, is to provide a home to any and all interest based Greek chapters.

“As most of our chapters are based on completely different interests, we have very little inter-chapter competition,” Ross said. “This assists us having a diverse range of interests while also building a strong, cohesive environment for students interested in joining.”

Additionally, because IGC Chapters are more focused on interests, they are more inclusive and lenient in nature.

KKY and TBS, being two of the more lenient chapters on OU campus with their co-ed membership, allow men and women to help with musical endeavors. With KKY being the brother fraternity to TBS, both chapters aim to serve the same goal: to offer aid to all OU affiliated music organizations. These organizations include The Wind Symphony, Symphony Band, Campus Bands, Jazz Ensembles and the Pride of Oklahoma.

Clark Smith, the TBS sergeant at arms parliamentarian, says that TBS and KKY co-educational membership is what allows the chapters to be so thorough in their efforts.

“Between TBS and KKY, our chapters are the most active ones on campus,” Smith said. “If anything our (co-ed) membership allows TBS and KKY to reach a larger audience of potential members.”

As well as providing TBS and KKY with more members, Smith thinks their co-ed membership equally helps members learn to collaborate with both men and women.

“Service isn’t gendered; anyone can do it, and because of that I think more service organizations should become co-ed,” Smith said. “(Co-education) just offers a variety of opinions which can ultimately lead to positive change – I see this a lot in TBS.”

This open membership doesn’t only benefit the members of TBS and KKY though.

Based on a 2014 study, conducted by the University of Wisconsin, co-education encourages gender equality because students within these types of organizations are forced to listen to different ideas and views provided by opposing genders.

This type of continuous interaction equips students with real world applications of mixed-gender cooperation that is needed for most workplace environments.

And while OU sororities and fraternities do work together for events such as Homecoming, consistency is key for gaining a real application of these tools.

Modern PAC and IFC chapters also emphasize the importance of career connections that students gain through joining a sorority or fraternity. But, by enforcing exclusionary, single-gender practices, these same chapters are prohibiting a prevalent and important factor of today’s workforce – leaving young adults not as prepared for a professional environment as they might think.

Within the past five years, some colleges, such as Harvard and Yale University, have already recognized this and have enforced historically male social clubs to include women. Other colleges like Wesleyan University decided that residential fraternities must become fully co-educational.

Major colleges across the country may be starting to add more inclusivity to Greek life through co-ed mandates, but TBS and KKY seem to be unique in their endeavors to bring co-ed chapters to OU campus. While some campuses may be ready for this change, others, like OU may not be.

Although completely co-ed Greek life may not make an appearance on OU campus for years to come, Lee emphasizes that Greek chapters will have to inevitably make the change at some point. 

“All (Greek) chapters have differing goals and ideologies, but when it all comes down to it, Greek life is really a way for students to bond with one another,” Lee said. “Organizations people belong to and their gender shouldn’t determine those bonds. I really do think co-ed is the future for Greek life.”

How Logan Knight is turning a professional wrestling interest into a career

By Katelin Hudson

Logan Knight begins his day at 9 a.m. as a maintenance worker at the University of Central Oklahoma. He spends most of his days checking that things are running correctly and repairing mechanical equipment when necessary. While most can take comfort in the fact that a day’s work can turn into an evening of rest by 5 p.m., for Knight, that is when his real job begins.

That’s when he gets to powerslam opponents into mats.

Knight has vivid memories of parading around his childhood home in a fake World Wrestling Entertainment championship belt at age 4. Now, at 20, Knight is closer to his dream of becoming a professional wrestler than he ever could have imagined; the only problem is, he’s not very close to the place he trains.

Twice a week, Knight gets in his champagne-colored Hyundai Elantra, complete with fuzzy dice, and starts his trip from Edmond to Bristow to train at Body Progression Wrestling. The drive takes an hour using the turnpike, but he prefers to take Route 66, so instead, the trip takes an hour and a half. 

While the drive may take a while, Knight doesn’t mind at all.

“It’s a fair payoff to be able to participate in something I enjoy so much,” Knight said. “It used to be hard juggling everything with wrestling, but now I set wrestling as a precedent and schedule everything else around it.”

The old Edmond North High School parking passes that are peeling off the windshield make clear this car has been with him since high school, but what’s less obvious is that Knight has had a passion for performing since he was in diapers.

Knight was a creative and sensitive kid, the kind who performed in theater productions, wrote poetry and played guitar. He wanted to evoke emotional responses in those that viewed his artistic abilities. He had a drive to perform.

As a bigger guy with broad shoulders and tall stature, Knight doesn’t fit the typical mold of a high school theatre kid. Despite this, Knight has a history of following his heart.

Knight moved out of his parents’ home to get a feel for living independently at age 16. At 18, he got a tattoo that represented his love for David Bowie. At 20, he dropped out of college to pursue his passion for pro wrestling.

Regardless of his performance talents, Knight struggled in high school. He struggled with being disliked, and said he was unsure how to handle mood swings that come with bipolar disorder.

“I would always be mad or sad or happy out of nowhere,” Knight said. “People thought I was on drugs because of it.”

While starting Zoloft and exploring creative outlets helped, the issues Knight had would continue into college.

After deciding to withdraw from UCO in April 2019, Knight moved back in with his parents. Two days later, PDQ – the restaurant chain Knight worked for – went out of business. He found himself jobless. Three days later, his stepfather lost his job and soon the family was evicted from their apartment. Knight and his parents feared becoming homeless. Knight feared for his future.

Not even a week had passed since Knight had committed to wrestling and he already felt defeated. He was angry and depressed.

But he refused to let this experience this take away his dream.

Knight might’ve found himself crying on the floor of his shower if this had happened in high school, but things were different now. He didn’t have time to feel sorry for himself. Knight continuously trained throughout this hard time and found that his worries were gone after practice. While the physical outlet helped him release stress, it was more the restraint of the sport that helped Knight overcome his hardships.

“While you’re in the ring everything is going a mile a minute, but you have to have a cool head – you have to be able to remember what you’re doing,” Knight said. “Yes, to a degree it’s fighting, but you equally need to be conscious not to hurt the person you’re in the ring with. You have to control yourself.”

Wrestling promotions found in Oklahoma are small and independent. Most wrestling fans refer to promotions like these as “indie wrestling leagues.” Indie wrestling promotions, like BPW where Knight trains, may be unheard of on a national scale, but it’s promotions such as these that pro wrestlers get their start.

Every pro wrestler has to start at an independent professional wrestling company. Wrestlers must gain experience and reputation before they can try out for major leagues like WWE.

That being said, Knight has moved up within the indie wrestling scene quite fast.

Knight went from seeing a local and independent pro-wrestling show – known as “indie wrestling”- in Oklahoma City, to networking with a wrestler from the show, to performing in indie wrestling shows. All within a year.

Now, Knight is not only in control of himself in the ring, but also in his daily life.

Derek Plum, a wrestler who regularly trains with Knight, emphasizes that Knight’s resolve to be in control is palpable.

“He’s of the most dedicated people I’ve trained with in a long time,” Plum said. “He doesn’t want to be mediocre…and he knows he’s in control of that; he’s working to be the best.”

Knight is determined to go far within the field of professional wrestling; he sees pro wrestling as a future career for himself. Going under the name Warren Powers – inspired by a superhero character named Warren Peace from the movie Sky High – Knight revels in the idea of making his childhood dream come to life; to become a superhero for the child who connects with pro-wrestling – much like Knight did when he was young.

Jake Travis, a friend who considers Knight like a brother, mentions Knight has always found comfort and determination in performing. Whether it be theater, music, writing or sports; Travis explains that Knight was born to become a pro-wrestler.

“He is built for wrestling,” Travis said. “He’s built physically, but he’s also built with the right interests and attitude that really make his gimmicks come to life.”

Putting on different personalities, or gimmicks, comes naturally to Knight. Instead of having to change his mindset to perform as both a hero or villain Knight attributes his ability to play different personas to the various roles he played throughout his high school career. 

As Knight delves further into his wrestling career, he’s now working toward getting his wrestling license, along with conjuring up designs for his own custom gear. He plans to continue performing and moving up within the indie wrestling scene of Oklahoma. While Knight may have a long way to go, he’s made it clear he won’t be content until he’s the best.

“There was never really a prompt from me to step back from the emotional stuff that used to rule my life, but with wrestling it all just sort of happened,” Knight said. “Hopefully, as I continue with wrestling things will change for the better, because I really do see this as my career now, and I am going to take this ball and roll with it as far as I possibly can.”

Making a career out of a pro-wrestling hobby

By Katie Hudson

Logan Knight is a 20-year-old pro-wrestler from Edmond, Oklahoma. While he may be new in the Oklahoma wrestling scene, Knight is determined to turn this interest into an actual career.

Katelin Hudson: When did wrestling first become an interest to you?

Logan Knight: To be honest, the interest has been there since I was in diapers. I remember this match from when I was really little where this guy just beat the shit out of this other guy with a chair. It somehow fascinated me as a child. I think it was really just the performance aspect of it all. 

KH: Has this been a lifelong dream of yours, or has the idea of becoming a wrestler something you’ve recently circled back to?

LG: I think the idea of performing has always been a dream of mine rather than wrestling. Wrestling has always been something I’ve enjoyed watching, but it wasn’t until last September that I found out about the local [wrestling] scene in Oklahoma. Before then, I found myself always being drawn to either sports or acting in high school. I’ve only been doing wrestling for a year now, but I think my background in both sports and acting has helped me succeed a lot. In my opinion, wrestling is 50% theater and 50% sport. With me already having a background in both athletics and performance, wrestling is the perfect fit for both of my interests.

KH: How were you able to go from a fan of wrestling to an actual wrestler? 

LK: First, I saw a flyer for a wrestling show in Oklahoma City and I knew I had to go. I then stayed after to help clean once the show was over because it looked like a lot of work and I wanted to help [the wrestlers] out to thank them for such a good show. While I was helping, I ended up talking to X Avior, [a wrestler from the show], and he eventually asked if I was interested in wrestling. I basically said yes and the rest was history. Since then, he’s helped me out a lot. 

KH: In what ways he has helped you out?

LG: He just got me in touch with a lot of local wrestlers. It was almost like a networking type situation. He also told me about places I could train and introduced me to the people that I now train with.

There aren’t any training schools [for wrestlers] in Oklahoma City right now, though. I have to drive about an hour and a half out to Bristow, Oklahoma to train. Right now, I do that about two or three times a week. It takes only about an hour if you take the turnpike, but the tolls started adding up, so now I take the backroads; which makes the trip a little longer.

KH: Is there anyone else that you’ve specifically grown close to within your wrestling league? 

LG: Yeah, there’s this kid who’s 18 that trains in Bristow with me, and he has slowly become one of my best friends. His name is Derek and he’s helped me get light years better than I could’ve imagined. He’s easy to work with – which is really valuable in wrestling, especially for tag team matches. There’s just chemistry between us and our wrestling style. Between all the hours we spend training together and the way we get along, I have a feeling we will end up working together one day.

KH: Wrestling seems like a big time commitment for you. How do you find time to balance wrestling with everything else?

LK: I went to [the University of Central Oklahoma] for two semesters, but I ended up withdrawing for wrestling. Between working a full time job, college classes, being in a fraternity and wrestling, it got to a point where I had to ask myself: is this too much? And, yeah, it was, and I had to make a decision. It was either writing – which was what I was majoring in at UCO – or wrestling, and I chose what I was more passionate about at the time.

I mean, when I originally dropped, I had plans to go back…at this point, though, I’m probably not going to. I’m just at this point now where I have a lot of momentum. I’m about to get my [wrestling] license, and I’ve started to think about what I want my custom gear to look like. Now, I’m in wrestling for the long haul.

KH: Dropping out for something you had only been doing for 7 months at the time seems pretty sudden, were your parents able to easily adapt to your decision to quit school for pro-wrestling?

LG: My parents have always been super supportive of anything I do. I don’t have naggy, horrible parents like some people do. My parents don’t expect me to do everything they say, and they’ve never had an issue with anything I’ve done. Honestly, I know that seems pretty strange, but they’ve given me complete freedom over my life since I was 13 – I’ve also been living on my own since I was 16. My parents just trust my ability to make my own decisions for myself, and they’ve always been behind me on those decisions.

KH: It seems like you have a really good support system behind you.

LG: Yeah, I do. My parents are really encouraging. I’ll send them videos of things I learn in training and they just get so excited. Not to mention my stepdad – I swear this dude is my biggest fan. It’s all very encouraging to know they believe in me. There were times in which I even questioned my decision, but my parents have helped me realize I can absolutely make a career of this. This is my career now, and I am going to take this ball and roll with it as far as I possibly can.