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In our continuing series on the women of esports, we're spotlighting ReKT Global associate Jessica Cummings. Jessica mentors amateur Fortnite players who partake in the ReKTGlobal and Find-Your-Grind Junior Rogue scholarship program, and are looking to succeed professionally — all while still attending college.
Cummings spoke with SYFY FANGRRLS all about how she started with League of Legends, how she got into esports, and what her work is like at ReKT Global.
How did you get into competitive gaming in the first place?
A friend of mine introduced me to League [of Legends] as I got into freshman year, and I competed with him. After a while, since I was the only girl gamer in my school, we kind of got a following. Before I knew it there were 30 other people who joined League just so they could compete with us, so we decided to start a team, which is really fun.
Tell us a little bit about winning the Find Your Grind Gamer Grind Scholarship and how it led to your internship.
At the college that I'm going to, I thought they didn't have an esports program. So I applied to fund that. Everybody said they'd never heard of a gaming/esports club — turns out they did have one. Nobody knew about it. When I got it, they asked me if I'd be willing to help in the future. I checked that box, of course, because I love gaming. It makes me so excited. A few months later, they contacted me and asked me if I would like to intern and I said, "Heck yeah," as fast as I could.
You’re an associate at ReKT Global. What is your job there like?
It's a bit all over the place. Last semester I worked a lot in marketing for the LEC, trying to get sponsorships and stuff, and taking down data, and social media, and anything that needed help in the company. This semester I've been 100% focused on Junior Rogue and running it, and making sure everything goes smoothly and trying to make it as best for the kids as I possibly can. I've really enjoyed it.
Can you tell us more about what the Junior Rogue program is?
Well, every week they have a seminar with someone in the industry. And it's not all strictly gaming or content creative-related, so they know what else is out there for them. We actually have one Junior Rogue player who's really interested in the background now, and not just playing, which is exciting. They also get mentored by two Rogue players in-game, and they really look forward to that. And every once in a while we have a tournament. Like this Friday I'm making a tournament for them to try to show off their skills as best they can since last week.
What goes into putting together an event like that?
This is the first time I put one on. Last time Ryan [Griffin, esports solutions specialist] did it, so this time I kind of went through and asked around the Rogue players what they would like to see from the Junior Rogue players. We have one player who is really awesome and involved, and so he's making custom maps for them to do their best. So I've just been asking around, seeing what people want to do and what would be best to show off what they can do and trying to put it all together.
What do you think is drawing so many people to esports?
I was actually thinking about that this morning. I think it's absolutely beautiful how esports is open for anyone. It doesn't matter how athletic you are. Anyone can make it big. I think that's what draws a lot of people, because it's something for everyone. And there are so many diverse games — there’s always a game out there for someone, and it just works perfectly with everyone.
You started with League of Legends, which is something we’ve heard from many of the women that we’ve spoken to for this series. Tell us a little bit about why you love it so much and if you still play.
I love how it's an easy game to play with friends, and I love how challenging it is. I really appreciate how much it changes, how active Riot is with the community and stuff. I'm never bored when I play League.
What other games got you into gaming?
When I was younger, my dad would always play games and I'd sit in the back and watch him. He played like Battlefield, and my grandparents are huge on Call of Duty. I always just sat back and watched and I really wanted to be involved, but I didn't really get to until freshman year.
Players in this sport and so many people involved in esports are young, so that means that their work often conflicts with their outside life and school. How do you strike a balance?
I put college first 100%. When it comes to playing games, I've gone a few months without playing League, but I have been able to make it equally balanced with my job, which I love. They're really helpful. Whenever I have an exam or something, they'll make sure to change up what responsibilities I have so I can focus on that. But ReKT has been really nice and making sure I have time to do both. They've helped out a lot.
Do you have advice for people who want to get into esports?
If it's what they're truly passionate about and excited about, go all for it. Don't be scared, because it's really exciting and that's just enough to push you through every day no matter how hard it is, just knowing that you're doing something that you absolutely love, and it's amazing.
You can find Jessica Cummings on Twitter @JurassicJessiex.