NECC Diversity Series, Feature No. 2: Finding Solidarity Within the NECC

Article written by Lethe W, NECC Editorial Content Writer

Esports can be a door-opener for new connections, friendships, and mentorships. Finding these connections can make or break someone’s experience as a diverse community member. In particular, for one team, that meant finding a new coach and solidarity within the NECC.

Hologram, also known as Kacey (they/them), is currently in their first year at the University of Arkansas. Coming from a small, rural community, they were afraid of being open with their identity in a new environment. However, they were utterly shocked when the University of Arkansas esports program welcomed them with open arms.

“I didn’t expect to be out on my team. I had my pronouns in my Twitter bio, and one of my teammates reached out to me… they asked what they should refer to me as.” Kacey explained, “After that, I put my pronouns in my Discord, and my teammates started using them!” 

Kacey went further into the importance of being accepted in their community. They explained that playing and feeling good could be challenging when people do not refer to them correctly. When Kacey’s team included them and respected their identity, it helped improve their gameplay and make them feel welcomed in the community. 

The NECC is not Kacey’s first competitive league. But Kacey explained what sets the NECC apart from other leagues. “The NECC feels way more balanced. It has to do with the number of teams with varying ranks and the bracket set up. Every game so far has been really fun and close! It feels better than other leagues, and our team is performing better and improving in the league.” 

Through a streamed NECC match, Kacey found friendship with Tristan (they/them) from the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Tristan became involved in their college esports program early on. When they discovered their Rainbow Six Siege team, they joined and played for a few years. 

Tristan and Kacey met through a streamed Overwatch match. Alabama-Huntsville was competing against the University of Arkansas. One of Kacey’s teammates streamed their Overwatch match from their perspective. After joining the stream to support Huntsville, Tristan used their unique skill set as their university’s Rainbow Six Siege captain to give tips to the Arkansas player. Tristan became an unofficial coach for the University of Arkansas Overwatch team and used their passion for teaching others how to succeed.

Tristan and Kacey started as a coach and player dynamic. When they began interacting outside of a coaching perspective, both players formed a connection. For Kacey, finding a coach with a similar identity was incredibly cool to experience. “Being in an environment I’m enjoying and finding someone with the same identity as me was so refreshing.”

Tristan has not coached many players with similar identities to theirs. Most of their coaching experience has been with their teammates. “It was like, ‘finally!’ when I was able to coach someone diverse,” Tristan explained.

When asked what they would tell the NECC community, Tristan immediately stated, “Get involved in your community. It is becoming harder and harder for people like Kacey and me to be open, comfortable, and safe. It is crucial that we have a large group of people behind our representation when people in powerful positions are trying to suppress us. Make sure you are involved in making diverse players around you feel comfortable and safe.”

“In the gaming space specifically, representation is important because if I had seen more diverse people coming forward and sharing their stories, it would be really empowering,” Kacey added. 

It can be difficult for players of diverse backgrounds to find a community. NECC is proud of being inclusive and providing an environment where players from all backgrounds can come together. If you or someone you know is from a diverse background and wants to find players with similar identities, NECC recommends organizations such as the*gameHERs, Queer Women of Esports, AnyKey, etc. 

After college ends, Kacey wants to keep playing esports and continue their passion for software development. Tristan is a computer engineering major; however, they plan to obtain a Ph.D. in history. Tristan wants to pursue research between the queer and labor industry. 

You can support Kacey in their journey by following them on Twitter at hoiograam and their Twitch, holograam_. As well as this, you can follow Tristan’s journey by following them on Twitter at tristanw07 and their Twitch at colecubed


The NECC began sponsoring esports in the fall of 2020. The NECC is currently sponsoring both regular season competition 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