Minnesota State’s Esports program has a new leader in the clubhouse. His name is Levi Arnett, and he’s the new head coach and assistant director of the program.
Arnett has participated in over 100 Esports events in a number of different roles, including broadcasting, casting, productions, administration, coaching and operations. Before getting involved in Esports, the Marine Corps veteran went to Illinois State University, and was a game design graduate.
“My cousin, her husband, was a game designer for Activision, and he made some of the games that I was playing at the time. I didn’t know and I found that out over a holiday, and it kind of inspired me,” Arnett said.
He initially didn’t go to college for gaming, but his head was turned once the opportunity presented itself.
“I actually wasn’t going to school for gaming. While I was in school, my alma mater Illinois State, they actually created game design program based out of their own Esports program. So I immediately transferred over just because I had such a big interest in video games,” Arnett said.
The gaming world being taken seriously as a profession was something he didn’t see coming.
“If I told 10-year-old me that I would be where I am today, I would be so ecstatic. I never thought that this could be a thing. It’s like a dream job,” Arnett said.
Despite people of perhaps an older generation, frowning on the idea of making a career from video games, Arnett’s parents were not that way.
“My parents are extremely supportive. I played a lot of sports, so they went to all the obscure sports events that I played. So they were extremely supportive of anything that I did,” Arnett said.
In high school Arnett played basketball, football, baseball and cheerleading. He also ran track and field. After graduating from high school, he played Australian rules football at club level for a semi-pro league in the U.S. He also played club rugby in college.
Before he started coaching, Arnett was a volunteer and found other ways to get involved at Esports events.
“I knew that esports was kind of a grassroots thing. So I felt like I needed to volunteer and I needed to help others play. Like you know, physical sports, you have referees and people who work within the sport that just volunteer their team to help support the league,” Arnett said.
Going to an event in Raleigh as a staff member led him to getting his foot through the door into coaching.
“I was a stage admin. That means I was monitoring PC setups and taking care of players. The team that I was an admin for was OpTic Gaming. I made friends with one of the players, and exactly a year later, I was on the stage with them as their coach,” Arnett said.
Some of Arnett’s coaching stops include teams in Europe.
“I started coaching with a team called Element Six. That was my first pro team that I coached and they’re based out of Ireland. They’re not a super big team, but in the game of Apex Legends, they’re probably a top 15 team in the world. Then I coached a team called Vexed, who was the best team in Europe. From there, my contract got bought out by OpTic Gaming, and so I coached them for them for the world championship this past September,” Arnett said.
The program’s commitment to caring for students is a reason why Arnett believes MSU is a good fit for him.
“It’s a great fit. Specifically because it’s a wonderful place. I love the campus. I love Mankato. There is a big emphasis on providing for the students, and then the competitive emphasis,” Arnett said.
Located in Wissink Hall 121, Maverick Esports is a place that is welcome to everyone.
“This isn’t just for competitors. I want individuals to come in here, to feel welcome to come in and play at any time. If they’re interested in representing the school as a varsity team, then they’ll have the best support,” Arnett said.
Header Photo: New Maverick Esports head coach Levi Arnett brings a wealth of experience along with him. He has participated in over 100 esports events in a number of different roles. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)
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