Meet Mayson: Cornell’s esports coach

The next phase of Cornell College’s esports program is officially underway as the college welcomes its new esports coach: Mayson Sheehan.

Headshot of Mayson Sheehan
Mayson Sheehan

Sheehan will lead the way in developing the program, recruiting students to participate, holding tryouts for a varsity and junior varsity team, and creating the college’s first esports arena in the Thomas Commons. Cornell’s team will start competing against other college teams for the 2019-20 season.

The esports coach is ready to get to work and share his competitive video gaming knowledge with the Cornell community. After all, he started competing when he was only 11 and became ranked in the top 0.5 percent of players in America for the game League of Legends by the age of 21.

The Indiana native, with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in secondary education from the University of Southern Indiana, says esports is a perfect fit for this liberal arts college.

“It helps students learn individual motivation and individual self-reflection,” Sheehan said. “I also think one of the most important things is the ability to adapt. In many liberal arts fields, the ability to adapt and problem solve on the fly is really important, and we get that a lot in esports.”

The Cornell College team will begin competing with one of the most popular intercollegiate games, Overwatch.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to having some competition and bringing esports to the campus and the local community at large. I’m looking forward to getting Cornell connected into the national, really global, community of esports.

What are your goals for the program?

In general, my main goal is to help bring more students to Cornell College. Specifically, my plan for the esports program is not just to have a competitive sector of the program, I also want to take the program and look at the industry side of esports–bringing on students who are interested in team management, content creation, or media management. I think there are a lot of positions in the esports program that are outside of the six-player roster that will be starting in Overwatch matches. So part of my goal is to integrate multiple aspects of esports into the program, not just having a competitive team.”

What will the arena look like?

We are currently looking at 12 stations for the players, and that’s because you have six players on an Overwatch team. So we’ll need to do six versus six matches. There will also be a coaching station for me and an office outside the arena. We’ll have two TV screens for Video on Demand reviews, practice with the team, and for spectators.

What do you like to do for fun, outside of esports?

One of my special interests outside of esports is antiquity and history. That’s why I was working as a supplemental Latin instructor at the University of Southern Indiana for a while. I have a special interest in antiquity, in particular, Cicero. I have translated various pieces of his work. Other than that, I like to kayak. There are some good areas to kayak around here!

Why do you think esports becoming such a big trend?

I think part of the reason why it’s successful is we are seeing it open up to a wider audience than ever before. Now we are seeing many more young women getting involved and a larger, diverse population of people getting interested in esports. Also, gaming, in general, is becoming more accepted by society. It’s a large step for Cornell and a large step for many campuses starting esports programs.

What are some of the challenges of esports?

One of the challenges with it is the games are constantly changing. Not only the title that you play but also, Overwatch is updated every three weeks. This is one of the main differences between traditional sports and esports. In football, you don’t have an update of the rule book every two to three weeks. Where, in most esports every two to three weeks you have an update that will change the way the game works. Part of my job as a coach is to read how the changes affect the game and understand the best way to play on those patches.

If you have questions about the esports program, you can contact Sheehan at