Players fight through pandemic guidelines to excel
By: Maria Adams & Giovanni Hicks/GCU Staff
Just not at the same pace.
Jeremy Chiang of GCU Esports Club and Lauren Jergens of GCU Club Tennis are the October Student-Athletes of the Month due to their special talents in their respective sports. Both athletes showed a willingness to improve their game and persevere despite the uncertainty all around them.
Esports: Jeremy Chiang
If you would have told Jeremy Chiang four years ago that he would be a premier collegiate gaming athlete, he would have told you that you’re crazy. That notion doesn’t seem as wild now that Chiang is on his third year of being a top player on the League of Legends team at GCU.
In high school, when Chiang was looking at becoming a Lope, he never considered competitive gaming. Although impressed with the GCU Esports Arena, Chiang only saw himself going there for casual gaming.
“I was visiting the Esports Arena, and they told me that there are tryouts soon for League of Legends, so I thought, ‘Sure, why not?’” said Chiang. “So, I tried out and made the roster.”
After his first season, where the squad finished 4-2 and barely missed the playoffs, Chiang decided to take gaming more seriously and see how great he could be at League of Legends.
“That summer before my sophomore season, all I did was work and play League of Legends. I really got into the game and improved a lot,” said Chiang.
Chiang improved his rank to “Grand Master”, which consists of the top 2.8% of players. Chiang still felt that there was a higher level he could go to, though. In his second year, he began a mission to reach his highest gaming potential. That – along with the hiring of League of Legends Esports coach Sean Shannon – helped the Lopes improve significantly. The Lopes still fell one game short of the playoffs, but Chiang ascended to the rank of Challenger, peaking at rank 101 out of eight million players in North America.
“It was a surreal experience,” said Chiang. “After getting to that rank, all the people that I was playing with were professional players and streamers that I’ve been a fan of for years.”
After his sophomore year, Chiang took a year off, returning to his home country of Belize to be with his family as they started a restaurant. Chiang had made the arrangements for his trip and notified GCU Esports of his intentions, but then COVID-19 hit, shutting down travel and throwing a wrench in Chiang’s plans.
“It was quite the rollercoaster,” said Chiang. “But with how everything turned out, I am happy that I stayed. There has been a lot of good to come out of this.”
Chiang, a Business Administration major, hopes to go into the restaurant industry either globally or domestically when he graduates in April 2022.
Women’s Club Tennis: Lauren Jergens
Entering into her third season on the GCU Club Tennis team, Lauren Jergens exemplifies what it means to be a well-rounded student-athlete. With exceptional talent on the court, leadership skills, and unique extracurriculars, Jergens earned the spot of #1 female for the Lopes the past two seasons.
“She is really competitive with all the other top teams,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Ed Prudhomme.
Aside from her high skill level, Jergens also possesses an innate desire to lead. Prudhomme officially named Jergens a team captain for the 2020-21 season.
“I enjoy making the young freshmen feel welcome,” said Jergens. “I remember being nervous when I first joined.”
While most sports spent the summer dealing with a lot of restrictions, tennis players continued training with minor modifications. With the green light to keep practicing, Jergens took full advantage.
“She spent a lot of time working on her game this summer,” said Prudhomme. “I am excited to see where she stands when we get back to competing.”
The Lopes’ conference, United States Tennis Association Southwest, is set to begin competition in 2021. In the meantime, Jergens is competing in a local USTA adult league to continue sharpening her skills.
Off the court, Jergens has proven that students at GCU can have a diverse set of interests. She is working towards a bachelor of science degree in Psychology while minoring in Graphic Design. When Jergens is not hitting the books or tennis balls, she is filling her time with extracurriculars like the Music Curation and Creation Club.
“I recently started learning to produce music just for fun,” said Jergens. “I love being a part of the club because it’s a great place to share the music I’ve made and see what others create.”