By Wyatt Crosher, Assistant Director of Communications for Student Affairs
Niner Esports, UNC Charlotte’s club for gaming and competitive esports, was named Club of the Year at the EsportsU’s 2023 Collegiate Awards on Saturday, May 6. Jorge Sanchez, Niner Esports president, was runner-up for Club President of the Year.
The Club of the Year award comes just months after the organization was also nominated as one of 10 finalists for the Esports Collegiate Program of the Year at the Esports Awards in December.
Sanchez said this award win was a culmination of the large effort put forth by all those running the club to expand Niner Esports’ reach.
“This past school year has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding years in Niner Esports history. One of our big goals for this year was to put Niner Esports on the map, to bring in recognition that we could use to further solidify support from the University to further invest time and resources into esports,” Sanchez said. “Between the Esports Awards nomination, which was a global award, and now winning EsportsU’s Club of the Year, it has allowed us to be recognized as a college esports powerhouse despite being entirely student run.”
Niner Esports has noticed the impact, Sanchez said, with the club’s events seeing more attendees and its social media presence becoming more active than ever. The club has also had success on the competitive scene, with its iRacing team winning a national championship despite existing for less than a full year.
“Overall, Niner Esports is at an amazing place, and I hope the University sees these accomplishments and helps the organization keep its momentum going forward.”
Sanchez’s individual efforts were also recognized at the EsportsU awards with a runner-up finish in the Club President of the Year category, with A.J. Taylor of Illini Esports ended up winning the award. For Sanchez, who is graduating this spring, it felt like a culmination of all his hard work for Niner Esports.
“Being able to go out to represent the organization one last time was a great reminder of everything I’ve done and accomplished,” Sanchez said. “Being named runner-up for the Club President of the Year award was further validation that in my time with Niner Esports, I was able to do things right for both the organization and the school. I love esports, and I worked hard to ensure I could give that same passion to others who came to become involved with the club.”