Inaugural Esports Coach Hopes Past Trauma Can Help Students

Lucas Campoverde, Concordia's esports coach

With a lifelong love for video gaming, Lucas Campoverde calls becoming the coach of Concordia’s newly launched esports varsity program a “dream job.” The road to that dream, however, includes a trauma to which few can relate.

Campoverde was studying communications before pursuing a career in law enforcement. After graduating from the police academy, he became an officer with the police department in Grafton, N.D. His community involvement quickly extended into the high school when the high school athletic director took Campoverde up on his offer to help launch an esports team.

“I said ‘absolutely, let’s start a program’ because I remembered the value that my competitive team provided me,” Campoverde says.

The supportive atmosphere from his team would continue to prove invaluable.

In August 2020, Campoverde was shot by a man he was attempting to arrest. Bullets pierced through his left chest cavity and grazed both arms, his right hand, and his left leg. He suffered pulmonary damage and a collapsed lung along with median nerve damage. Though he was lucky to survive, everything would be different. 

“My way of life changed in a matter of seconds,” he says.

With extremely limited mobility, Campoverde relied on gaming and his online community for support while he healed. But he had to play with new fingers due to nerve damage.

“It was a very difficult and dark time,” the former officer remembers. “I am so grateful to all my friends and family for their help in my recovery.”

Unable to continue on patrol, Campoverde medically retired from the police force and began working at Fenworks, a Grand Forks company that creates large-scale online gaming opportunities for K-12 institutions. He was the head coach for the game Overwatch and was also a video editor before being hired at Concordia.

Using His Experience

In addition to coaching players, he says he will be available to any student who may have suffered emotional or physical trauma.

“I want to be another safe space for advice or conversation,” Campoverde adds. “I do not want to have gone through something as terrible as I did and have it just sit there. I feel like I can do something here with it that makes sense. I’m grateful for everyone who has supported me in my recovery.”

Game Plan for Concordia

Competition is set to begin in January 2023 with Rocket League and League of Legends. As he builds his teams, the new coach is looking for talent and work ethic.

“I would much rather take an average or learning player who has the right mindset,” Campoverde says. “The main thing is you should be looking at what you can do just a little bit every day to improve.”

While Campoverde promises he will challenge his players, he’s going to work to make it a fun and rewarding experience with students versus faculty and alumni events and game broadcasts. A benefit of gaming through an institution like Concordia, he adds, is there will not be the toxic negativity that can come with competitive gaming. He says he’s excited to teach students “how to game with class.”

It will also be inclusive.

“There’s really no barrier for entry when it comes to the game. You just have to be able to understand the game and play the game,” Campoverde says. “It doesn't matter what you look like or your physical characteristics. When you’re in the game, you become a different character. You become a competitor.”

The lounge is on the lower level of Park Region Hall. The 18 gaming computers will be open for all students to use.

“The space is incredible. There’s a lot of Concordia pride,” he says. “That is a big thing around here, so we intend to uphold it with our program.”

With pride behind his new title, Campoverde has a message for his father: “As soon as I got hired, I said, ‘I told you, Dad. I told you video games would pay off.’”

Students will be able to communicate with the coach or keep up to date with events using Discord.  

Learn more about the esports program.