How gaming led this student to become captain of his university’s Call of Duty esports team

As the captain of Iona University’s Call of Duty team, Jean Quinde has responsibilities both on the virtual battlefield and amongst his teammates in the real world. To Quinde, esports are all about establishing an inclusive, supportive environment, while still maintaining the adrenaline-fueled intensity of the game.

Quinde first started gaming when he was seven years old, starting out on a Nintendo DS Lite before moving on to Xbox. He first picked up Call of Duty in 2010, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and from there, he developed both a love and a skill for the popular first-person shooter.

Call of Duty is such a popular game because it’s a franchise that over the years has just been fun to play every single time that it releases,” says Quinde. “To be a good player in Call of Duty, you need hand-eye coordination, good listening, and good cognition to know where [the other team] is probably going to go.”

Quinde’s deep appreciation for Call of Duty, and esports in general, made going out for Iona’s esports team a no-brainer. “I wanted to get involved because I’ve always loved watching esports online,” says the esports captain. “Trying to be a part of it was something that I wanted to do as well.”

After hearing about Iona’s team from a friend, Quinde was ready to shift from spectator to player, and he eventually climbed the ranks, becoming the captain and leader of the Call of Duty team, a position that comes with plenty of responsibility.

“As a manager I go around checking the PCs, making sure we have everything installed, going around helping our teammates,” Quinde explains. “I just go around making sure everyone’s ok, [and] everyone has a safe environment to be in.”

Strong leadership is essential in the competitive world of collegiate esports, and Quinde faces the intensity head-on. “You’re not in a casual environment anymore. You’re no longer playing with like, good friends from home,” he says. “You’re being serious, you’re trying to win, and you just have that really competitive adrenaline feeling.”

Call of Duty is intense, but for Quinde, the intensity and hard work makes winning that much sweeter. “A victory is the most exciting feeling in the world,” shares Quinde. “It hurts a lot more when you lose, but it feels so much better when you win, because you did it together.”

Looking ahead, Quinde wants to leave a lasting legacy on Iona’s esports program. But for now, he’s happy just doing what he loves. “It’s just an escape. And I need to just escape from reality, play a game, calm down, and relax,” he says. “That’s what I do. I just play.”

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