It’s been a roller coaster few months for former Fusion and Overwatch League professional, Joe “Joemeister” Gramano, who on Thursday accepted a varsity Overwatch coaching position at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
“Collegiate esports is on the rise,” said Gramano, who retired from professional Overwatch in September. “Some of these collegiate teams are investing more time, money and resources into their teams than Overwatch Contenders teams. That’s the reason why I was drawn into this. They are very committed, are very passionate about it and I’m on board with it.”
Coaching wasn’t on Gramano’s immediate radar prior to his retirement. But when Harrisburg University called — and showed him around campus — the decision came easy for the Canadian, who said the whole process took about a month.
“I jumped on the opportunity and flew out as soon as I could,” said Gramano, who was recommended by the Fusion brass. “They showed me all the commitments they made, the passion and vision they have and the investments they put behind it. I was blown away by all of it.”
The well-liked support main joined the Fusion for Overwatch League’s inaugural season in 2017 but retired after three years of professional Overwatch play. Although he didn’t feature in any matches for the Fusion, like a backup quarterback, Gramano gained an education on team management and Overwatch success.
The underdog Fusion advanced to the Overwatch League finals but fell to the powerhouse London Spitfire.
“I was able to spectate a lot more,” said Gramano, who previously played for Team Canada in the Overwatch World Cup, as well as Faze Clan, Complexity Gaming and Team SoloMid. “I was able to give input to the team and they respected me as one of them. It helped me develop a more broad understanding of the game. I was able to sit back and view from the different angles.”
Bringing Gramano, a well-known name within competitive Overwatch circles, on board is another bold move in the world of esports for Harrisburg University. The esports program at Harrisburg is the school’s only varsity sport and represents games like League of Legends, Hearthstone and of course, Overwatch. Harrisburg University varsity players receive full scholarships and play in a state-of-the-arena, fully equipped esports arena.
“The esports program at Harrisburg University has truly put the university and the city of Harrisburg on the map, and Joemeister will be a real catalyst to our growing momentum,” Harrisburg University president Dr. Eric Darr said in the school's official release.
For Gramano, moving from player to coach was a difficult decision, but also a natural transition. With Harrisburg in his corner and his interest in teaching, the 25-year-old is embracing the future.
“I was studying to be a teacher in college so teaching was always my path," he said. "Things were going well as a player, I was competing and enjoyed it for almost three years. That changed recently, and I don’t regret [retiring]. It’s part of growing up.”
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