NAECAD Interview: Kaitlyn Roose, Michigan Tech

April 1, 2022

Kaitlyn Roose was named the Director of Esports at Michigan Tech on November 4, 2019. She is also pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors Psychology.

Roose has over seven years of competitive gaming experience and has achieved respective ranks in the top 10 percent of the player base in Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and League of Legends. Additionally, she has scouted opponents for two playoff contender teams, analyzing individual and group levels.

What is the Current State of the esports program?

Kaitlyn Roose: At Michigan Tech University, we field six games. We have Rocket League, Overwatch, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Apex Legends, and Super Smash Bros. We're also looking into Valerant for next year. We have 50 to 54 students and 37 players in the program total. I give a range because we're looking to add a few more casters and members of our media staff. 

I don't micromanage them. I firmly believe in student empowerment and allowing the student-athletes to develop leadership skills, communication skills, problem-solving, and conflict management. I think a lot of that comes from allowing them to have autonomy and choice and how their season looks.

What are some of the key learnings you have since being named director in 2019?

Kaitlyn Roose: I think the main thing is to ask for help. It's tough if you're in a rigid mental state, or maybe a lot is going on in the job or even outside of the job. Sometimes it can be tough to balance everything.

There's a lot of directors who have three kids,  have another full-time job, and are doing this, and they're in school and all of that, and they're doing what seems to be, on the surface, great. But maybe that's not the case internally, and not everyone's the same. No institution is the same. Everyone has different policies. Everyone starts in another space. Everyone has their battles. So it's essential. I would say the number one thing is to ask for help.

How do you make sure players have a balance between esports and their social lives?

Kaitlyn Roose: That's important. We are one of several schools that do this, but we follow NCAA rules, which means 20 hours a week of sanctioned activities, team activities, and that's the max. In addition to that, we limit two leagues per team per semester. So essentially, what that means is they're limited to 20 hours a week.

The key is just making sure that they can time manage that and find that appropriate balance of what makes them happy, what gives them a whole college experience, and the best opportunity to grow and develop as people. And sometimes that is through clubs. And that's what Esports is for. To help them grow as individuals, teammates, and young professionals.

The program recently hired an Assistant Esports Director. What will be their focus going forward?

Kaitlyn Roose: Chris is incredible; he is such a blessing. He is so good at what he does. His three primary focused areas are recruitment. That's his top priority, media management. So he is the administrative head of the media team that I mentioned, in addition to our two student leads. And then the third thing is partnerships, or what a lot of people would call sponsorships. 

He's already working on several tremendous opportunities there.  As of 3/25/22, we had our FIRST successful stream with peak viewership of 65. Michigan Tech played Iowa State in NACE Star League 16-6 and 16-2. If you're interested in seeing the stream, head over to www.twitch.tv/mtuesports!

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