In this Sunday Aug. 26, 2018 photo, the China esports team play Taiwan in the esports exhibition at the 18th Asian Games Arena of Valor, Britama Arena, Jakarta. Credit: Dhemas Reviyanto | AP

WATERVILLE, Maine — Thomas College is launching one of the first varsity esports programs in New England, according to a news release from the school.

Thomas has joined the National Association of Collegiate eSports, and will begin competing in regional and national eSports tournament competitions this spring.

“Thomas College has been an innovator in many areas. Esports puts us at the leading edge of cocurricular programming for our students,” Thomas College President Laurie Lachance said in a release.

“This investment will support the goals of our strategic plan, as varsity esports will help college-wide recruitment and retention, bolster enrollment in our technology degree offerings (cyber security, computer science and computer information systems), increase student engagement, and build and enhance workforce skills that employers demand including collaboration, critical thinking, strategy development, and the ability to plan and execute,” she added.

Esports is competitive, organized video gaming with tournament competitions taking place internationally at the professional, collegiate and high school levels.

Varsity esports members at Thomas are considered competitive athletes. Team members will have a coach, uniforms, and will practice and compete with equipment including Alienware area-51 Threadripper computers and individual headsets while also traveling to regional esports competitions.

Thomas College is able to launch the program with support from Bill and Joan Alfond, according to the release.

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