NECC Diversity Series, Feature No. 1: Growing an Inclusive Esports Community

Article written by Lethe W, NECC Editorial Content Writer

Traditionally, esports at the collegiate level has been a playing field that has been difficult for players of unique backgrounds to thrive in. A recent 2021 Associated Press Study found that esports rosters were 90.4% men. The National Esports Collegiate Conference (NECC) is looking to change that. One of the conference's focused core values was community when creating the NECC. Our number one priority was and still is, giving everyone a platform to compete, regardless of their identity.  

"A positive and healthy community is central to everything that we do, and every decision we make has that in mind." Jacob VanRyn, the NECC Commissioner, stated. "When we began the NECC, we wanted to make sure we were inclusive of all players in the collegiate space. I'm most proud of our focus on a positive and safe community for ALL players that compete in the NECC."

The majority of staff at NECC are in their early twenties, with experience in game titles featured in the competition. Most of our staff members come from diverse backgrounds or, in the case of CEO Caleb Glube, has witnessed barriers in creating a welcoming esports environment. 

"When I was younger, I played video games with my younger sister," Glube explained. "She started playing CS:GO and eventually was bullied out of playing video games. That made me upset, so I wanted to create an environment for diverse players and teams."

This commitment to creating an inclusive environment includes staff as well. VanRyn and Glube started a staff team that welcomed everyone, regardless of personal background. 

"We look for staff who are willing to learn and put in the hard work. Most of the time, we have no idea what a person's background or identity is until we get them hired." Glube added. 

The NECC's commitment to diversity and inclusion has been successful across the board. Each game title has seen an increase in players with unique identities from season to season as NECC has gained more teams. Our most significant game in terms of diversity growth?


"As someone who has been an active fan and player of Overwatch for years, I'm so proud to see the level of diversity within the community continuing to grow." Caroline Shaw, one of the Overwatch game managers, explained. "I interact with so many outstanding players and coaches that are underrepresented in the esports scene. Seeing their drive, passion, and leadership gives me even more hope for the future."

During the Fall 2021 Season, Overwatch in the NECC had 15.9% of players who identified as pronouns other than he/him. This season (Spring 2022), that number has increased to 16.5%. Collegiate esports struggles to maintain an inclusive environment, so having consistent growth is an achievement not to be ignored. The three top, diverse games within NECC are Overwatch, League of Legends, and Valorant (in that order). 

The NECC is proud that nearly 10% (9.7%) of the players within the conference use pronouns other than he and him. This number means at least one to every eleven (1:11) players has a unique gender identity. We hope to increase that number to over 10% by next season. The NECC aims to continue being a community-based organization that provides a home to players of all backgrounds.


The NECC began sponsoring esports in the fall of 2020. The NECC is currently sponsoring both regular-season competitions and championships across a wide variety of titles. The conference aims to serve the gaming community with respect and is a safe and inclusive environment. With more than 100 colleges and universities currently competing in the conference, the NECC is proud to be a positive home for the collegiate gaming community. For more information, please visit or follow us @neccgames on Twitter or Instagram