Health and performance:
The intersection of collegiate esports and athletics

Collegiate Track

10/08/20, 12:30PM - 1:00PM PT

About the Panel

Collegiate Esports continue to see rapid growth nationwide, with many universities creating their own Esports teams, departments, and initiatives on campus. Several universities have begun to provide scholarships for these athletes.

Despite the growth, the health of a collegiate esports athlete is a commonly overlooked or absent aspect within the development of a program. Many factors can be contributing to this, such as, it not being a priority, lack of funding, lack of personnel, administrative limitations or it being viewed as not important for esports competitors.

This panel discussion will explore what is currently occurring in the realm of collegiate esports health and performance. Discuss opportunities for overlap between esports programs and athletics departments. Also, delving into what esports programs can learn from athletics programs and vice versa.

It is well established through the scientific literature that regular physical activity in combination with good nutritional habits can lead to improved long-term health outcomes, increased physical and cognitive performance and ultimately, happier, more successful individuals.

Many traditional collegiate athletics programs already have robust and comprehensive health and performance programs in place for their athletes. These include access to top trainers, dietitians, mental health resources and academic support services. These programs create environments that enable the athletes to be successful in activities both within the classroom and out in their respective sporting codes.

This panel discussion will explore current health and performance practices of collegiate esports, discuss opportunities for overlap between esports programs and athletic departments, and dive into how esports and athletic programs may learn from each other.

Haylesh Patel

Esports Exercise Physiologist, UCI Esports

Haylesh is the Esports Exercise Physiologist for UCI Esports. He is the driving force behind the health, wellness and performance program at UCI Esports for their scholarship players and support staff. Haylesh completed his Masters in Exercise Science at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. Prior to transitioning into Esports Health and Performance at University of California, Irvine, he worked for +6 years in the clinical setting with private and hospital organizations. Throughout his career he has been fortunate to work with a wide range of individuals from working with the general public, high risk clinical populations through to elite athletes, helping them to improve their health and physical performance. Being an avid gamer throughout his life, he is very passionate about applying his skills and knowledge to the esports population, helping them to be successful both in game and out of game.

Casey Thomas, RD

Performance Dietitian, UCLA

Casey spent five years working in clinical research before deciding to return to school to become a registered dietitian. He spearheaded the development of a sports nutrition program on campus and completed a thesis project examining cognitive supplements in elite e-sports athletes. He is a published scientific author who regularly engages as an expert peer reviewer, and has been featured in media outlets for interviews about his nutrition strategies. Casey currently works as the performance dietitian for UCLA Athletics and instructs an Exercise and Sports Nutrition course through UCLA Extension. His unique research background has allowed him to implement protocols that have facilitated significant improvements in body composition, health, and performance among the athletes – assisting several teams to championship victories. He has similarly enjoyed consulting for other sports programs, universities, and businesses looking to gain a performance edge. While Casey has experience working directly with elite level athletes and multiple Olympians, he is also passionate about bringing high level performance nutrition to people simply looking to improve.

Michael Kuhns

Overwatch Assistant Coach, UCI Esports

Michael Kuhns is the assistant coach for UCI Esports' scholarship Overwatch team. He was formerly a professional player, most notably for Counter Logic Gaming. After playing professionally, he transitioned to coaching where he helped lead his team to the Contenders 2018 Playoffs. Most recently, he coached UCI’s own team to the final four of Tespa’s Collegiate Championship.