What it’s like being captain of a collegiate esports program

Rocket League esports team captain Jake Teto doesn’t believe in ceilings when it comes to gaming skills. The Iona University senior believes that the secret to his success in the game is his ambition to always keep improving and to never be satisfied with how skilled he is. 

Rocket League is flying car soccer,” explains Teto. “So it’s soccer on a very compact field, and you control a car, and the objective is just like a soccer game: to put the ball in the opposing team’s net.”

While the game may sound simple, Teto’s approach is fairly abstract and is less about technical skills than about having the right mindset. “Obviously there’s some mechanical things that go into gaming, but Rocket League is a game where you need to always want to keep improving,” Teto tells In The Know. “Because there was no ceiling that I could see myself getting to, I just kept going and going until I became so good to a point where I’m playing for my school [and] winning championships.”

The MAAC Esports Championship was a big focus for Teto and his team this year. The captain took over tryouts and really wanted to emphasize that even though this is a college esports team, it’s more than just playing video games—they play to win. “We’re playing to win the championship,” says Teto. “We’re not gonna be content with second, third, [or] fourth. We take it very seriously. The amount of practice we’re putting in, we’ll watch our old gameplays back and then try to correct little mistakes, and it really gives us a competitive advantage.”

Iona’s Rocket League team’s hard work paid off when they did end up winning the MAAC Esports Championship. “The victory felt awesome,” says Teto of the win. “It was what we worked all year for, worked so hard for, and to see it really pay off, especially receiving a ring, was like nothing I could have imagined.”

With a championship win under his belt, Teto hopes to inspire other collegiate esports athletes, and to pay it forward with his expertise. As far as advice to aspiring college esports players, Teto says it’s all about mindset. “Your mindset is what really drives you to become a better player and what allows you to compete at your highest level,” explains the captain. “You can practice and put in as many hours as you want, but if you don’t have that mindset, you’re just putting a ceiling over yourself.”

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