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Shark Spotlight: Vice President of eSports Michael Thompson


Vice President of Esports Michael Thompson. (Photo: Michael Thompson)

Vice President of Esports Michael Thompson sat down with Seawanhaka to reflect on his journey and offer advice to aspiring members of the Esports community.

Thompson, raised in Bothell, Washington, explained that he began his Esports journey at North Creek High School. Although initially focused on football, he gave Esports a try in the fall of his junior year.

Thompson quickly adopted a leadership role, assuming the position of Secretary of the Esports Club. The following season, he became President, a position he held for the remainder of his high school career.

Thompson reflected fondly on his experience with High School Esports. He focused less on the performance of the team and more on the relationships he developed with his teammates along the way.

"Our first season, we won like two games, we lost like everything. But it was a ton of fun, honestly. I mean, just being able to meet up after school and hang out and play the games, we all grew close over the course of that time, and I see some of those guys as my best friends."

After high school, Thompson found a new home at Long Island University Brooklyn. He explained that the move to New York was originally for location and opportunity alone.

In the land of opportunity, Thompson discovered Esports at LIU. He quickly joined the club and got recognized for his hard work and dedication.

Thompson quickly assumed the position of Student Ambassador at LIU Esports, a role that he described as the "Swiss Army Knife" of the club. In this position, he planned and oversaw events, working directly with the; at the time, Head Coach and Advisor of LIU Esports, Matthew Taylor.

Thompson described that he was initially skeptical about relying on Esports for a career, as it was a largely unexplored side of sports. His first year at LIU changed his mind, however, as he noted:

"I finally switched to sports team management away from entrepreneurship, which was kind of that core business major that I was taking just for the safety of it. I was like, okay this is what I'm going to do; I'm going to go all in on the Esports side and let my passion lead my way."

Currently, Thompson sits as the Vice President of LIU Esports. He detailed a rigorous schedule of emails, meetings, and oversight, as it is his responsibility to ensure that competitions run smoothly and that teams and the arena are taken care of.

In addition, Thompson balances his duties as Vice President with being a full-time student and athlete. He explained that his busy schedule often carries into his weekends and that some nights, he is in the Esports arena until around midnight.

Surely, Thompson didn't do it all alone. He introduced many important figures in his life that helped him along the way, first listing mentors that influenced his development and leadership strategy. He was incredibly impacted by his high school Esports Club Leader Shannon Hornoiu and Football Coach Torrey Myers, alongside the previously mentioned Matthew Taylor.

Thompson described how each individual taught him valuable lessons that he keeps in mind today. He went into more detail by saying:

"I value individuals who don't treat you differently because of their status or who they are. I have a hard time following people who treat me like I'm lesser than just because I'm a student or because I'm younger. I think that can really limit you if that's how you approach life."

Alongside mentorship, Thompson described his immense appreciation for his mother, Bettina, and his long-time girlfriend and teammate, Samantha Ward. He attributed nearly all of his management knowledge to his mother and recognized Ward for introducing him to Esports at North Creek and LIU.

He also explained how the two have been by his side every step of the way and guaranteed that he would be nowhere near the position he is in today without their undying support and sacrifice.

Michael Thompson and Samantha Ward. (Photo: Michael Thompson)

After reflecting on his personal experience, Thompson spoke briefly about Esports in a general sense. When asked about the opinion that Esports do not qualify as real sports, he expressed that it's only a matter of time before that narrative is changed.

Admittedly, Thompson does not expect his 70-year-old grandfather to watch Esports, but he does anticipate younger and middle-aged audiences to begin following Esports more and more. He also recognized that Esports is not football, but he explained that it doesn't have to be. He noted:

"I think the faster people can overlook the aspect of physicality determining sports, the easier it will be to realize that there is passion and interest behind it."

Thompson also drew from his former football experience to explain the similarities between the two. Playing football, Thompson learned the values of leadership, respect, teamwork, dedication, pride, and overcoming adversity, which are lessons he consistently applies to his life in Esports.

Before departing, Thompson offered some advice to aspiring members of the Esports community. Encouragingly, he said:

"The worst thing you can do is sit there and watch and wait for someone to invite you. You might just have to open the door yourself. You will find that you're in a space full of joy, excitement, and support. So really, just take the leap and have fun."

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