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Loyola Wolf Pack Athletics to Launch Esports, Beach Volleyball in 2022-2023

By Loyola University on Tue, 08/10/2021 - 10:59

The Loyola New Orleans athletics department is set to start competing in beach volleyball and esports for the 2022-23 academic year

August, 10, 2021, NEW ORLEANS – The Loyola University New Orleans Athletics Department is excited to announce the addition of two new intercollegiate programs: Wolf Pack beach volleyball and esports are set to start competing during the 2022-23 academic year. The announcement now gives Loyola 20 sports, as the beach volleyball program will be a women's team while esports is a coed program. With the additional offerings, the number of student-athletes is expected to eclipse 300 in the department, double the 149 student-athletes who wore the maroon and gold in 2014-15.

"We are excited about adding two new intercollegiate sports to our portfolio starting in the fall of 2022," said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brett Simpson. "This initiative was part of the University's Strategic Enrollment Plan. Both sports are gaining popularity across the country. Beach volleyball will be a nice compliment to our indoor team, and esports is a rapidly growing sport and industry. We're excited about these offerings as we recruit student-athletes for the Fall of 2022."

The Wolf Pack beach volleyball program will play a spring schedule, opposite to the indoor volleyball team's fall schedule, starting early 2023. The Pack anticipates competing in select matches this spring as a club program, but it won't become an official varsity sport until spring 2023. The NAIA is set to host its first-ever NAIA Women's Beach National Invitational this academic year, though, as that competition will be held April 21-23, 2022. There are currently approximately 30 NAIA beach volleyball programs nationwide, with that number growing every year.
 
"We are very excited about the addition of beach volleyball to Wolf Pack Athletics," Loyola volleyball coach Jesse Zabal said. "With this program, we will expand our reach in recruiting student-athletes to Loyola New Orleans for both beach and indoor. In the Greater New Orleans area alone, there are incredible opportunities to train and compete at the juniors level, so we are confident that we can attract a great group of student-athletes. Beach volleyball will enhance our ever-growing athletics department and will open up opportunities to eventually compete for a national title, as the sport is quickly emerging at many other NAIA institutions."

Loyola will become the seventh collegiate beach volleyball program in Louisiana, and the first NAIA program in the state. A head beach volleyball coach will be hired to the Wolf Pack Athletics staff, and that coach will also serve as a full-time assistant coach for the indoor team. 

The Wolf Pack esports team will join the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the only governing body for varsity college programs in North America. NACE is a nonprofit membership association organized by and on behalf of member institutions. Together, NACE members are developing the structure and tools needed to advance collegiate esports in the varsity space by collaborating to lay the groundwork in areas such as: eligibility, a path to graduation, and competition and scholarships. NACE is the largest member association of varsity esports programs at colleges and universities across the U.S, making up more than 5,000 student-athletes and $16 million in esports scholarships and aid. 

Loyola becomes the fourth collegiate program in Louisiana and it will compete with approximately 190 other collegiate programs across the country. The Loyola esports team will have a gaming facility built inside the Danna Student Center on campus to house the program, and some of the video games the team could compete in are Rocket League, Fortnite, League of Legends and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.
 
Because of the ease and convenience of online streaming, the esports industry has boomed during the last several years. According to Business Insider, the audience is expected to grow from 335 million in 2017 to 646 million in 2023. Most projections also have the esports network earning more than $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2021, too, with that number growing even higher in future years. 

Loyola athletics will begin a search for head coaches of the two programs immediately, and more details will be released throughout the 2021-22 academic year leading up to competition next fall. 

You can keep up with the Pack by following Wolf Pack Athletics on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoyolaWolfPack, Twitter and Instagram @LoyolaWolfPack, and by checking out our website at LoyolaWolfPack.com