MEC donates $25,000 to SMC Esports program

Published 1:42 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College announced today that Midwest Energy & Communications of Cassopolis has made a generous donation of $25,000 to partner with the college’s Esports team over the next decade.

The agreement provides operating funds for equipment and tournament entry fees for the Esports team and includes renaming of their modern practice and competition space as the “Midwest Energy & Communications Esports Arena.” The arena in the Barbara Wood Building on the Dowagiac campus is a showcase for the information technology program, but it also provides exciting opportunities for students who love computers and gaming with 12 state-of-the art consoles in a highly-visible glass-walled space in the very center of the business and information technology class building.

“We’re so grateful that Midwest Energy & Communications continues to support the potential in this community and stepped up to expand our partnership,” said Dr. Joe Odenwald, SMC President. “This arrangement will directly help our business and information technology students, broaden exposure of SMC across the country, and also get the word out about available high-speed internet, which is critical for students taking online courses and the economic health of the whole region.”

MEC President and CEO, Bob Hance, added, “At MEC, we’re dedicated to creating vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities, and one way in which we do this is by bringing fiber internet to unserved and underserved rural residents in southern Michigan. Reliable, high-speed internet opens up a world of opportunity for individuals pursuing post-secondary education and personal passions. We’re excited to support SMC’s efforts to become a leader in student engagement and to help ensure that local youth have the tools they need to succeed in today’s and tomorrow’s world.”

Southwestern Michigan College formalized its Esports program in 2021. Student officers and a part-time staff coach manage the team of 8-10 members and schedule around a dozen matches per year. The Roadrunners are part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports and the National Esports Collegiate Conference, which sponsors regular season competition and national championships for Valorant, Rocket League, League of Legends, Rainbow Six, and Overwatch.

SMC’s Esports team currently competes in Rocket League and Valorant but hopes to expand game options based on team members’ interests and expertise. The SMC Rocket League team was the NECC national runner-up in their division in 2022.

MEC serves electric, propane, and fiber internet to roughly 68,000 accounts in rural Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Through 2026, MEC will bring internet to over 30,000 additional addresses as part of its mission to end the digital divide in rural Michigan.