The above image is an artist’s conceptual illustration of proposed interior design plan. Subject to change.
Converse University has secured a dynamic space within the historic Drayton Mills Marketplace in Spartanburg, S.C. to house Converse Athletics’ inaugural co-educational esports program. Located 2 miles from Converse’s main campus, the 2,500-square-foot space at Drayton Mills features distinctive exposed brick, broad windows, 25-foot ceilings, modern glass doors, and an elevated 2-story loft. The venue blends rich historic architecture with bold, modern elements.
Converse plans to incorporate design concepts from current Interior Design and Graphic Design students as well as faculty members to create an aesthetically pleasing, attention-grabbing hub with supportive infrastructure, gaming stations, and equipment for the Valkyries esports team, to be opened in August 2021.
The space will also allow up-and-coming esports athletes from local high schools to fuel their passion for esports and utilize the training hub through clubs, camps, and community events. Converse also plans to create and broadcast live-streamed esports competitions to the main Converse campus to engage the campus community and allow students to gain IT experience as they execute the broadcasting.
“We are thrilled to establish a presence at Drayton Mills and expand our influence in the greater Spartanburg community,” said Jenn Bell, Athletic Director for Converse. “With this elevated space, our Valkyries esports team will be able to thrive as a robust collegiate team with student-athletes from all over the world. As the suite in the Drayton Mills Marketplace becomes an esports hub for collegiate student-athletes and community members, Converse looks forward to drawing local and national attention, putting Spartanburg on the global map as we drive our region vibrantly forward. It’s a very exciting time at Converse in Athletics.”
Currently, the inaugural esports program has signed 40 incoming students from all over the world, many of whom receive competitive athletic scholarships, as well as current Converse students.
“With this elevated space, our Valkyries esports team will be able to thrive as a robust collegiate team with student-athletes from all over the world.” – Jenn Bell, Converse Athletic Director
“Admittedly, in the beginning, it was challenging to convince people to add the esports program. The interest it has generated with students, and now the launch at Drayton Mills sets this program up for a strong future at Converse. I couldn’t be prouder,” noted former President Krista Newkirk, who first introduced the idea of starting an esports program at Converse. With the growth of collegiate esports, Converse will promote its strong STEM programs, including Computer Science offerings that advance the opportunities of our esports students.
Student-athletes on the Converse esports team will have structured schedules for academics, gaming, and community involvement, and will be held to the same standards as all other Converse collegiate student-athletes. In addition, Valkyries esports student-athletes will benefit from using all of the resources on the Converse campus that are currently being used by the NCAA and IHSA student-athletes, which include the tutoring lab, writing center, strength and conditioning center, and more.
The location of the esports suite is adjacent to the Drayton Mills community pond, 20,000-square-foot community event lawn, and 3-mile greenway trail that connects to the Spartanburg trail network, and has the potential to grab attention from those in the Drayton Mills and greater Spartanburg community.
“Our goal for the overall development of all of Drayton Mills has always been to create a vibrant community where living, learning, working and playing can all occur here as it historically did in the days of the operating mill,” said Tara Sherbert, Owner and Developer of Drayton Mills and Managing Principal of The Sherbert Group.
“We believe esports is a perfect piece to finishing off our vibrant community puzzle,” continues Sherbert. “The community interaction component of the program falls directly in line with our extensive on-site programming and constant focus of bringing communities together. Recreating history beautifully takes community, and we are beyond proud that Converse has trusted our campus with this incredible and cutting-edge program.”
The Valkyries esports team is preparing to compete in the Carolina Esports Conference this year– a regional-based championship to title the Best Esports Program in the Carolinas. To learn more about Converse’s inaugural co-educational esports program, click here.