Chase Daffron apparently doesn’t like having a lot of downtime.
The junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is taking a full course load, majoring in business analytics and minoring in computer science. He plans to graduate in December 2024.
He works 20 hours a week in the UTC Information Technology office and 10 hours a week in the school’s Campus Recreation office.
He pitches on the club baseball team at UTC.
On top of all of that, he spends a lot of time playing video games—but even his video gaming is serious business.
Daffron recently was chosen as one of the top eight players in the Varsity League in the College Call of Duty Southeast region, which has 48 teams. College Call of Duty is a competitive varsity esports league.
Spreading the net wider, there also are Northeast, Midwest and West regions with similar numbers of teams, so his selection makes Daffron one of the 32 best players out of more than 1,500 players across the U.S. and Canada.
“It was all fan-voted, so it was great to see some people support me and our team here at UTC,” said Daffron, whose player name is “Redchase.”
A native of McKenzie in West Tennessee, Daffron initially received a $6,000 esports scholarship to play “Call of Duty” at Concord University in West Virginia. But $6,000 doesn’t go far, he said, when out-of-state tuition plus housing and meal plans add up to more than $27,000 per year.
After two years at Concord, he returned to his home state when UTC offered him an esports scholarship.
According to Cindy Strine, director of campus recreation at UTC, if a collegiate player is ranked among the nation’s best, schools will swoop in to recruit that student—dangling scholarship money and other perks.
“It’s the Wild West out there,” she said.
UTC awards scholarships to esports players, student coaches and other students who are working with the growth and development of esports. Scholarships are awarded on a case-by-case basis.
Daffron is currently looking over applicants who want to join the UTC team for the upcoming season, which starts in the fall.
“Right now we have a kid coming from Japan to play with us,” he said. “We have a lot of good recruits coming in and, hopefully, we will be really good next year.”
His hopes reach beyond just the “Call of Duty” team. UTC also has competitive video game teams in “Rocket League,” “Valorant,” “League of Legends” and “Overwatch.”
“I also want to help build this program for the future and get players to start their careers here,” he said.