By M.K. Bryant
University of Montevallo alum Ethan Baggett has been hired as the new head coach for the University’s Esports team, taking over for Brandon Parramore. Baggett, who graduated in December 2022 with a degree in business administration, was on the esports team from 2019-2020, serving as the Overwatch team captain.
“I had the really unique opportunity to step into the team captain role for the Overwatch team for our first time competing,” Baggett said. “We made it to the playoffs, so that was a really big moment for us since it was our first time competing as the Overwatch team.”
This first competition was the Peach Belt Conference, an annual collegiate athletic conference with participants from the southeastern United States.
Baggett learned about the job opening through the Montevallo Esports Discord server, where he says alumni remain active.
“It’s still a newer team, and it’s this thing that we’ve invested a lot of our time and energy into,” Baggett said, referring to himself and the other alumni. “Seeing it grow is really rewarding.”
Baggett encourages anyone interested to join the esports Discord server. It includes public spaces outside of the private team channels.
This semester marks the 5th anniversary of Montevallo’s Esports team. Their first year, 2019-2020, was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our first year was when everything went online,” assistant coach Brendan Beal said, “So we’ve taken a couple steps backwards at points, but we’ve been steadily moving forward for the past two years.”
Beal expressed excitement about having an alum from the esports team return as the new head coach.
“He’s very responsible,” Beal said, “and the fact that he was here meant that, in some ways, I had been interviewing him for two or three years.”
Beal and Baggett both described coaching an esports team as a different experience than coaching a traditional sports team.
Baggett explained how beneficial it is to have prior insight on the different games that the team competes in.
“Being the head coach of the Esports team is very unique, because with a sport like basketball or lacrosse, that sport is the one sport that’s happening; whereas I’ve got five different games that all are very different and unique,” Baggett said.
The Esports team has five teams playing Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League, Valorant and Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
“The idea that I get to do my dream job at the university that I chose and graduated from is such a surreal experience,” Baggett said.
“I also feel like it equips me more because I’ll be able to talk to my players about the school in a way that other coaches who didn’t go and have the college experience at Montevallo might not be able to do.”
Current Overwatch captain Jake Stoup looks forward to seeing what Baggett brings to the team.
“I am very excited with the new head coach, and I think it’s very cool that the new head coach was the old Overwatch captain,” Stoup said.
Stoup hopes that Baggett will work with him to help grow the team.
Baggett said that he has big ideas for the team, and he looks forward to increasing the team’s activity on campus.
“It’s nice to see the Overwatch captain come home,” Beal said.
M.K. Bryant is a contributing journalist for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in mass communication with a concentration in multimedia journalism, and she’s double-minoring in theatre and creative writing. When she’s not busy watering her plants or writing, M.K. can probably be found wandering around an art museum or a library.