Written by: Kayla Henson, Dickinson State University writer
Anti-social. Lazy. Unathletic. Forever stuck in front of a screen, oblivious to the world outside of fantasy. These are some of the unflattering stereotypes often pinned to gamers. None of them could accurately describe Dickinson State University (DSU) junior Jacob Scully.
Scully is a gamer, but he’s also an athlete - both on the field and on the computer. He’s a pitcher for DSU’s baseball team and a Valorant player for the esports program.
The exercise science major and native of Florence, Montana, has played baseball since he was at least four years old - he was practically born into it. His grandfather played baseball at Brigham Young University, while his mother played softball, and her two brothers played college baseball. In addition, both of his parents were coaches for several years.
“Baseball’s always been in my family, and I also have two brothers, so growing up, if I wasn’t yet old enough to play, I was either watching my mom coach or dad coach or watching my brother play. But by the time I was able to walk, I probably had a baseball in my hand. For as long as I can remember, baseball has been a good chunk of my life.”
Scully’s love of gaming started in his childhood as well, and the connection between the two sports began then as well.
He’s one of three brothers, all of whom shared a passion for traditional sports and gaming.
“We always played sports games – baseball, basketball, football – and then Call of Duty: Black Ops came out,” Scully said. “My older brother and I started getting into it cause he’s five years older than I am, so he obviously knew what it was. We all got into it together, and we all started playing it at the same time.”
Prior to transferring to DSU, Scully attended Dakota Wesleyan University, where he also played baseball. He learned about esports when his roommate joined the school’s team and liked the idea, so he tried out for the team and made the roster.
When he first came to DSU in the spring of 2021, it was to play baseball, but he occasionally made use of the gaming hub, getting more and more into Valorant.
“Last year, I got big into it. It was one of the only games I wanted to play, and when I got off practice, I’d come home, eat and shower and I’d be like ‘I want to go play Valorant now’,” he said.
While playing baseball for DSU, Scully injured his right elbow and had to have Tommy John surgery, which is an extensive surgery to repair a torn ligament in the elbow. The injury provided an opportunity for Scully to play Valorant more and more until he sought out the school’s esports program and joined the Valorant team officially.
At first glance, the two hobbies seem contradictory - that is, if you believe the stereotype; however, esports has more in common with baseball than people might think.
For Scully, it provided a means to stay competitive.
“I’m a pitcher, so I’m really competitive, especially when I’m on the mound,” he said. “For baseball, we have practice and weights and other team stuff, individual workouts to get better. A lot of people don’t think we do that for esports; they think we’re just there to play video games, and obviously we are and we are there to have fun, but we’re also really competitive. We don’t like losing. A lot of people don’t think it’s a sport because you’re just playing video games, but in any sport that you compete in, you have to want to get better; you have to want to outperform the other team or you’ll lose, and that’s a thing in all competitive sports.”
Esports, like baseball, also offers him leadership opportunities.
“When I’m pitching, all eyes are on me; I’m the leader of the team at that point,” Scully said. “And you know Eli’s our captain, but I feel like when the train starts to go off the tracks a little bit, being one of the older guys on the team, I’m able to reel everybody back in and get everybody calmed down, and make sure everybody’s still locked in if things are starting to go bad.”
Although people often imagine gamers to be recluses, esports – like baseball – is a team sport.
“In baseball, I’m with 40 other guys. I see those guys every day in practice and class and everything, so we have that family connection, that bond of brothers, but the other guys on the Valorant team, we have that same connection,” Scully said. “If we’re not in person, we’re in a Discord call with each other talking about practically everything. We don’t always chat away about video games. We’ll talk about how our day went and stuff like that.”
Scully thinks the stereotype of a gamer is unfounded. Gamers are just like everyone else – individuals with their own interests and personalities.
“If you hadn’t met me as another student and you saw my name associated with esports, there’s always that picture of that typical gamer – but I’m a college student-athlete,” he said. “My main focus was baseball, which in America is the top 1% of athletes, so that stereotype of somebody who only plays video games and sticks to himself, I think is completely wrong.”
To learn more about the esports program at DSU, please click here.