MORGANTOWN — The WVU Esports program has made huge strides in a short amount of time since its creation a few years ago. That trend continued last month with the announcement of WVU Lotus, the first female varsity roster within the WVU esports program and the first all-female varsity Rocket League roster in the entire country at the collegiate level.
WVU Esports director and varsity head coach Josh Steger said implementing an all-female roster is something that was important to him from the beginning of the program and is a huge step toward the future of esports at WVU.
“A lot of people always talk about wanting to include women into esports and they don’t take the time to find the talent and implement the talent,” Steger said. “We saw the opportunity to do this and I honestly sometimes you have to just step up and be the first to do something and get the ball rolling.”
Emma Krol, Kira O’Connor, and junior Cayla Roberts make up the Lotus roster.
Krol came to WVU from Reitdiep, Netherlands in August 2023 and serves as the team captain. Previously, she played professionally for the Kansas City Pioneers and Emisure in the Women’s Carball League. She said she knew WVU was the perfect fit for her right away and the opportunity to play Rocket League while also earning her criminology degree was a dream.
“Emma is so driven and hungry to win,” Steger said of his captain. “She has something that a lot of female talent doesn’t particularly have at the moment and seeing how she plays, it’s clear that she can compete at a high level and we thought we would be able to provide her with a good opportunity. There was also the aspect of leaving her life at home in the Netherlands and moving to America and West Virginia to pursue the chance. It shows how passionate she is about it and how much she wants to succeed.”
Krol said she clicked right away with the program from the first time she communicated with Steger and the crew, saying that she “couldn’t say no” after the success of her initial trial with the team.
“I didn’t hear about West Virginia at all until I talked to Josh for the first time,” she said. “We met through someone he was talking with at the time and he told me that he had been looking to recruit a female roster and that I was one of the first players he was interested in. He invited me for tryouts and we realized it was the right fit very quickly. We kind of just knew that this was where we were meant to be right now.”
Roberts is a freshman from Los Angeles, California who joined WVU Esports along with Emma in August of 2023. She is a criminal justice major.
“It’s cool to be a part of history here,” Roberts said. “I hope we can inspire other females to pursue esports at a higher level.”
O’Connor is a junior marketing student from Norcross, Georgia. She joined WVU Lotus after playing professionally for Gen.G Esports since September 2022.
WVU Lotus is competing this fall in the NACE Star League online, which is a nationwide league for collegiate Rocket League teams.