Local esports team helps members socialize and connect

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Local esports team helps members socialize and connect

Honeybadger and community co-leader Andrew Clanan addresses the team and those who wish to join, at the team's first meeting.

Honeybadger and community co-leader Andrew Clanan addresses the team and those who wish to join, at the team's first meeting.

Daniel Rey Perez

Honeybadger and community co-leader Andrew Clanan addresses the team and those who wish to join, at the team's first meeting.

Daniel Rey Perez

Daniel Rey Perez

Honeybadger and community co-leader Andrew Clanan addresses the team and those who wish to join, at the team's first meeting.

Margaret Cataldi, Staff Reporter

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The El Paso Honey Badgers is a competitive online gaming (esports) league that started up in late January this past year and has expanded citywideThe league was originally founded with the intention of helping shy students branch out and meet new people with common interests.  

“It’s for people who are interested in programming or coding or engineering, but who are also more reserved and don’t always make friends fast,” co-founder and director of the UTEP Learning Environments Mike Pitcher said. “And so there’s a connecting bond with that through video games and esports.” 

It was the connections made through online gaming that inspired the Honey Badgers to expand into a citywide league.  

“We met a group in Pennsylvania that uses esports to help children with autism who have challenges connecting with others,” Pitcher said 

He went on to explain that, after reaching out to local school districts, the Honey Badgers were able to extend the league into multiple schools throughout the Yselta, Socorro and El Paso districts ranging within the thousands. 

Currently, with about 24 different gaming divisions, the Honey Badgers league participates in a myriad of online games, the most notable among these being “Smash Brothers,” “Call of Duty,” and “League of Legends.”  

Remarkably, the league managed to capture two titles within the first month of their formation. In February, the team competed in their first collegiate tournament playing “Starcraft 2” and placed 12th within the region. Then, within that month, they went on to finish eighth in the “Apex” UK Tournament.  

In addition to being one of the Honey Badger’s co-founders, senior Andrew Clanan leads the team as its captain. Like many gamers, he is passionate about the satisfaction and sense of achievement that video games can bring to someone. 

“You’re focusing on the communication, on your situational awareness, on your hand-eye coordination – it’s a lot of variables that are in effect there,” Clanan explained, reasoning that the tediousness, intensity, and sometimes violent nature of certain games can be rewarding in the sense that the player is developing and mastering a handful of valuable skills.  

Fun and games aside, the root intention of the Honey Badgers remains.  

“People think it’s all about the gaming and the winning,” Pitcher said. “But really, it’s a lot more about the teaching and learning and bonding with other people who share a common interest.”  

Other co-founders of the league are Hector Lugo of the UTEP Academic Technologies, graduate Sarah Huizar and undergraduates Fernando Monroy and Karla Ayala 

The Honey Badgers meet Fridays at 5 p.m. in  UGLC room 202.  

For more information about the Honey Badgers or to sign up for the leaguevisit its social media: @ephoneybadgers on Facebook and @ep_honeybadgers on Twitter, or join its Discord server: EPHoneyBadgers 

Margaret Cataldi can be reached at [email protected] 

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