‘Video Games Aren’t Just For Guys’
“I’m just an esports player,” Bowman said. “Nobody on our roster or the coaches ever saw it any differently either.”
While Bowman isn’t the first woman to earn a roster spot in Blinn esports’ brief history (the program has had two female junior varsity players since it began in the fall of 2020), she is the first to earn a varsity role and hopes to encourage more women to put their video gaming abilities on display.
“The people at Blinn are awesome,” Bowman said. “I felt welcomed, and I want other women, either those coming to Blinn or going to other schools, to know that if they want to play, they should. Video games aren’t just for guys; they’re fun, they can be competitive, and those things are universal. They’re for everybody.”
Ahead of the spring semester, Blinn head coach Aaron Kapiko sent an email for new players, and Bowman, a 19-year-old graphic design major from Big Spring, Texas, signed into the team’s Discord chatroom – an instant messaging service – to learn more about the program. It was there that she first interacted with her future teammates.
“I honestly didn’t even know the entire team was all guys,” Bowman said. “Everybody had unique screen names so you couldn’t really tell; but honestly, I didn’t care, either.”
All Bowman knew was that she enjoyed playing Overwatch – a first-person shooter set decades in the future – and wanted to play competitively. After her tryout, Blinn assistant coach Kyle Murto – who coaches the Overwatch team – brought Bowman on as a walk-on and assigned her to a substitute position for the varsity team.
From the beginning, Murto said Bowman’s play and work ethic were a welcome addition.
“She put in just as much work as everybody on the team, she was here for every practice, every scrimmage, every video review, all of our boot camps,” Murto said. “We had opportunities to do one-on-one sessions with former professional players and she took advantage of all of those.
“Alyssa developed a lot during the course of the semester, and from where she started, she’s a vastly improved player. She improved leaps and bounds to get to where she is.”
Bowman made one start for the Buccaneers this spring and was a part of a historic campaign that placed Blinn among the nation’s elite programs. After placing second in the NJCAA Esports national tournament championship, the Buccaneers were invited to represent the NJCAA at the Collegiate Esports Commissioner’s Cup earlier this month in Atlanta. Bowman was one of just four female players at the 16-team tournament.
Bowman plans to return to Blinn and the team in the fall, and she says her experiences have not only made her feel at home as a Buccaneer esports player but should serve as inspiration for other women who are interested in competitive video gaming.
“We definitely need more representation in the sport,” she added. “I know there are other women who can play and compete in esports, and they should give it a shot.”
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.