West Virginia University is making history as the first collegiate esports program in the country with an all-female varsity Rocket League roster this season.
The Mountaineers are adding junior Kira “Kiralina” O’Connor and freshmen Emma Krol and Cayla “Hira” Roberts to the roster for this fall as they join the men’s team in competition after WVU won the College Carball Association Summer Series championship in July.
“This is a big stride for all women in this space. Our goal is to inspire other young ladies to pick up gaming and show them that they have a place here,” WVU Esports Director Josh Steger said. “For our program, we hope this is the first of many all-female teams that we can form.”
The trio has been playing together for a few months prior to arriving at WVU. That time getting to work together is a valuable asset to the team as they look to compete at the top levels. They will play in the Open Premier division of NACE Starleague and in the National Esports Collegiate Conference, while also looking to become the first women’s team to qualify for the Collegiate Rocket League.
“I’m just excited to, hopefully, be able to be a good voice for women in gaming,” Krol said. “There are some issues we face in the gaming industry, as a whole. It seems like we always hear about all the bad things that happen and we have to talk about those things in order to change them. But it’s also so cool to be part of something that is positive in this community.”
Last year, the WVU men’s team became the first team in program history to qualify for a world championship when it punched its ticket to CRL Worlds, and that’s a level the three women are ready to push toward now that they’ve arrived on campus.
“They’re great to play with. I think we have a lot of potential,” O’Connor said. “Getting to be here at WVU as the program grows and improves and getting my degree while playing Rocket League with them is really great.”
O’Connor is a marketing student from Norcross, Georgia, and comes to West Virginia after playing for GenG since September 2022.
Krol is a criminology student from Rietdiep, Netherlands, who had been competing in Women’s Carball with Emisure.
Roberts, who is from Los Angeles, is a criminal justice student and played with O’Connor and Krol in a handful of Women’s Carball tournaments over the summer, including the online qualifiers for DreamHack: Rocket Clash.
“Kira had reached out to me when I became a free agent at the same time as her and Emma joined us a few weeks later,” Roberts said. “It’s fun to play at a high level. We’re all learning and getting better every day. It’s cool to be a part of the history here and I hope we can inspire other females to pursue esports at a higher level.”To get more updates about WVU Esports, follow the program at @WVUEsports on X, previously known as Twitter, and watch live events from all the varsity esports teams at twitch.tv/wvuesports1.