Arianna Schuck | Staff Writer
Dana Hustedt, the new director of esports at Florida Tech, will be coming to campus in March.
She was first introduced to the world of esports in 2014, and worked at Grand View University as the esports director for the past four years.
Hustedt said her friend group in college was big on gaming, and from that experience, she saw it as a business opportunity.
“I know how to run events and tournament management, and was able to apply those skills to the esports industry,” Hustedt said.
Hustedt started the Grand View esports program in 2017 with about four students. The program grew to include nearly 50 students in 2020, where they competed in five different game titles.
“I have been pioneering a lot of the collegiate scene for a few years now, and I’m very excited to get to Florida Tech,” Hustedt said.
Hustedt recalls having a conversation about building a strong foundation for esports with Florida Tech back in 2019.
Hustedt said that there will be a gaming facility for campus and community engagement, which can hopefully be an esport destination for Florida and beyond.
“It’s going to be a great tool to help current students build their gaming passion and career path,” Hustedt said. “I am very passionate about that and making sure everybody gets into the community and helps give back.”
The main objective is to first establish varsity, JV, and supported titles for the program, which can lead to building club and community engagement. Hustedt explained that this will foster K12 inclusion.
William Branca is the student director of esports at Florida Tech.
“I want to build us into the destination for esports in the southeast,” Branca said. “With our new facility opening in the near future, and our new director of esports, Dana, I have no doubt that we can accomplish this.”
According to Bino Campanini, the senior vice president of Student Life, the esports program first started off as a small organization. After conversations with administration and SGA, Student Life came to realize that there was more interest than what was expected.
“My next step was to see if we could actually facilitate a better place to do this, and that’s why we secured the Ruth Funk Center,” Campanini said.
According to Campanini, the original plan to renovate a few rooms in Evans Hall for esports was no longer feasible because the spaces would not be large enough. The Ruth Funk Center would have more space, allowing the program to grow.
Gaming will, for the most part, take place on the second floor until the first floor is cleared out. Once that is complete, the first floor will be for competitive, varsity esports and the second floor will be for club and recreational gaming.
Campanini explained that prior to Hustedt being hired, he met her at esports conferences where she was one of the featured speakers, and he thought that she’d be a good fit for the program at Florida Tech.
“The long term goal is to create an esports program that is going to be first class; one of the best in the country,” Campanini said.