BY ASHLEY MOTT
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The smash of thumbs on a controller and occasional grunts caused by a loss or mistake are all sounds that Aidan Zapotechne, a sophomore computer science major is very familiar with. Having grown up in an era where GameCube and other Nintendo systems were the hit of the ages, Zapotechne’s love of the game started at a young age.
Fast-forward to spring 2018, and you’ll find a young freshman looking to find his place on Cleveland State University’s campus. Searching for a way to plug-in to the social circles, Zapotechne explored the surrounding areas and came across a Super Smash Bros. club at Case Western Reserve University. After spending some time there, an idea sparked — an idea that upwards of 30 other people at the university would come to love.
Zapotechne reflects back on his freshman year remembering how excited he was to start his own Super Smash Bros Club after visiting Case Western.
“I said, ‘You know what, this has got to exist here at CSU,” Zapotechne said.
Setting out on a mission, Zapotechne then got in contact with Cleveland State’s Conference Services department to see if he could rent out a table in the innerlink. While normally this is only given to established student organizations, after a long train of emails, a table was secured.
“It was just me at a table with the GameCube controller and an empty seat for someone to come up and play me,” Zapotechne said, remembering the day that it all started.
Little by little people would come up and play him in the interlink, giving fuel to the embers that were just starting to come to life.
Once the fire was lit, there was no stopping him. As the spring semester came to an end, he quickly used the summer months between the spring and fall academic semesters to secure his vice president, Patrick Maloney; treasurer, Justin Willard; secretary, Christin Li; and faculty advisor, Rachael Stephan. While it wasn’t easy to start networking with people when he had no idea where to start, Zapotechne’s advisor’s words rang in his mind as he pushed forward.
“She said, ‘The number one thing you can do is get involved,” Zapotechne recalled.
Taking those words to heart, he continued on after finding his board members, to start on contacting people to determine how to make the organization official in the university’s eyes. However, it wasn’t as smooth sailing as the process first started out.
Originally contacted by the Cleveland State Recreation Center, Zapotechne was informed of the opportunity to become a new e-sport through the rec center. The idea being that they would be able to receive funding, booking space and work solely through the rec center for events.
While this seemed great in theory, put into practice, it wasn’t all that great. According to Zapotechne the rec center dodged their efforts to hold meetings, events and other activities at every turn.
“Most new sports through the rec [center] don’t really get funding,” Zapotechne said, frustrated.
However, this was not the impression he was given when the team first signed up as an e-sport through the rec center. In addition to that, Zapotechne remembers times where the board members of the now established Super Smash Bros club would want to hold events, but the rec center declined on account of a concern about electricity consumption.
Looking back on it now, Zapotechne has some questions on how much electricity is really being used since the student center is able to host their events just fine.
“To say that it was specific to the rec center, I didn’t really understand it,” Zapotechne said. “Being through them gave us a hiccup a lot of the time. We couldn’t reserve space. We couldn’t hold meetings.”
Needless to say members who were interested in joining the club were getting frustrated at not being able to meet up with each other, and they made it known on their server called ‘Discord.’
It was at this tipping point that Zapotechne, Maloney, Willard and Li finally decided to go through the Student Life department to get their organization off the ground and running.
After many hoops and jumps, or as Zapotechne blatantly put, “a lot of bureaucracy,” the organization was founded and ready to go. It took a while to reach the point of becoming an organization with an OrgSync page and approved by the university, however Zapotechne understands why it took a while.
“They want to make sure what you are doing is worth while,” Zapotechne said with a smile.
Evidently, many other Cleveland State students thought it was worthwhile too, as on average, between 18 to 35 students show up to play at their weekly meetings, with over 40 members showing up for their first ever tournament.
With their numbers continuously growing, Zapotechne has high hopes for future tournaments and meetings. However, he feels that there are still people who could be reached and is planning fliers, visix screen requests, and more innerlink tables to promote the new organization on campus.
He has plans to delegate most of these tasks as the other board members are excited and ready to put their heels to the grind and recruit more people.
“I think there’s still people out there who would be really interested in us. We just got to get to them,” Zapotechne said.
According to their OrgSync page, they are planning on hosting another event on Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. in the Fenn Tower Ballroom for the launch of the new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game on Nintendo Switch in efforts to bring in more types of players.
However, at the end of the day, Zapotechne isn’t as concerned with the number of people that are present as much as he’s concerned about the atmosphere that the club is providing.
“I would like to have a community where everyone can come and accomplish what [they] want. Whether that be playing for fun or practicing and getting better and playing in tournaments. I want to be that [place] for people here,” Zapotechne said.
Now, it’s all about fostering that community vision for the club and letting players get together and play the game that unites them all.
Originally Published on The Cauldron.