Bellarmine's second Esports Invitational will see 16 high schools compete in three games March 9-10

March 6, 2024

2023 Esports Invitational
Bellarmine University will host its second annual Esports Invitational—the only such event in the state—on March 9 and 10 in Frazier Hall, with 124 gamers representing 29 teams from 16 high schools across Kentucky competing in three games. 
Organizers made some changes based on what they learned from last year’s inaugural tournament, said Mitch Greenwell, director of Esports at Bellarmine. The event will be two days this year instead of three to make it more exciting, and Mario Kart 8 replaced League of Legends. Teams will also compete in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Rocket League.
The Esports Invitational tournament supports one of Greenwell’s biggest goals: to make Bellarmine’s Esports program a resource hub for Kentucky high schools.
“I want the community to see Bellarmine as the foremost authority for all things Esports,” he said. “When high schools need help with their new programs or with coaching questions, or when someone thinks of schools that really understand the Esports world, I want it to be Bellarmine.”
Esports was categorized as a Kentucky High School Athletic Association sport five years ago. Since then, it’s been the fastest-growing high school sport.
Greenwell, a Bellarmine alumnus with undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education, returned to his alma mater in August 2023 from Trinity High School, where he taught English and coached the Esports team that won the first-ever high school Esports state tournament. 
He is also an instructor in the Esports minor housed in Bellarmine’s Sports Administration Program. Bellarmine is one of a small number of universities nationally that offer both competition and academic credit in Esports, and the Esports minor is the only Esports academic credential in the state.
Bellarmine currently fields a total of 22 players on four Esports teams. This year, the university moved to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), “the most competitive league that exists within Esports,” Greenwell said.
The move allows Bellarmine to go up against top-tier schools like Louisiana State University (LSU), Michigan State and George Washington University that the Knights don’t usually play, he said. “It's really nice to say that we beat LSU this year in a game.”
Andrew StammermanOne of the things he likes most about Esports is that it helps student gamers to “find their people.”
Andrew Stammerman was one of those students at Trinity. He was captain of the team that won the state championship. “I really enjoy video games, and I’m not athletic enough to participate in other sports, so Esports is perfect for someone like me,” he said. Now a first-year Psychology major, he was the first student signed to Bellarmine’s Esports program. 
Greenwell said Esports also legitimizes gamers’ seriousness.
“I think it legitimizes how much skill they have, and how much time and dedication they put into their games, just like other athletes,” he said. “Having an Esports program, rather than just a videogame club, helps them to feel like ‘I'm playing against other people who take this seriously as well.’ ”

If you go: Bellarmine Esports Invitational

What: Esports teams from high schools across the state will compete in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Rocket League and Mario Kart 8. 
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 9, and noon-6 p.m. Sunday, March 10
Where: Frazier Hall, Bellarmine campus
Tickets for spectators: $5 at the door each day (free for Bellarmine students, faculty and staff)
Information: Mitch Greenwell, Bellarmine Esports director,

All News Stories