SHEBOYGAN COUNTY — The world keeps on changing, and a Lakeland University student is part of the evolution of what we consider a student-athlete.
Robert Xiong is part of the wave of the future - an esports athlete.
"Look at it now," Xiong said. "It came to reality. And I'm just, and we have a Green Bay Packer here with us, like, who loves gaming. So it's amazing. You know what I mean? I'm speechless right now."
That Green Bay Packer is now his coach, Ahman Green, a star running back for the Packers nearly a decade ago. Xiong grew up in Milwaukee and went to the Hmong American Peace Academy, while watching Green perform on Sundays.
"I love the Packers, and I used to watch them all the time. But then for him, to be here? The all-time rusher? I'm speechless, the all-time rusher here, at Lakeland," Xiong says. "Many people say that e-sports is not a sport. He sees that it's a sport, and I do too. I wrote a whole paper on it. And for him to identify as a gamer? It makes me feel more comfortable. It makes you, more accepted."
The coach taught the student a lesson on day one.
"I mean, I play. I play. I wouldn't say show them who's boss. I just played a good game," Ahman Green says.
Xiong has a 3.1-grade point average at Lakeland. And says smarts are needed, in the world of esports.
"Esports takes a lot," Xiong says. "It's a lot of mental stress. A lot of practice, just like football. Hours and hours of playing the game. learning the game. Things change in a game, so you have to learn the new, what we call the new meta. You have to know where the players are. You have to know how to rotate. You just need to be really good at the game in order to understand it. So, I'm hoping to help other students, build their knowledge on the game."
"They have to be a student of the game," Green says. "So just like I was a student of football? Being a running back, I had to pick up the blitz and I had to catch and block out of the backfield."
Xiong and Green continue on this relatively new frontier, and want to prove that gaming is a growing force in the sports and entertainment world.