Finlandia University E-Sports Team Head Coach talks about new program coming next fall


HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) — At the end of January, Finlandia University announced that they will launch a varsity E-Sports team.

E-Sports is one of the fastest growing sports around the world. It’s competitive online video gaming at it’s best.

“I mean each game is different. Some games require a ton of strategy,” said Thomas Goodman, E-Sports, Head Coach, Finlandia University.

“I look at our league of legends teams and their playbook is bigger then a quarterback playbook at a college. I have experience in coaching football and soccer in college and their playbook is just as large, so they have to learn counter plays and everything because coaching that type of team is actual face to face coaching. You do video reviews on how you played the game, what things you can approve on.”

Thomas Goodman has been involved in the video gaming world since the 90’s, even declared champion for games such as the Super Mario Brothers games.

After playing college soccer, Goodman went on to play professionally in England, he was also on the Olympic Mountain Biking team for Canada, before being hospitalized for 6 months after a mountain biking accident, in which time, Goodman picked up the gaming remote.

“I started to play Call of Duty and Counter Strike source when they first came out and got some high level rankings,” said Goodman.

When he got back to the states, Goodman went back to school for his undergraduate in Education Foundations from the University of Oregon, a Masters degree in Recreation and Sports Pedagogy in Soccer from the University of Ohio, and currently finishing his doctorate in High Education and Leadership from Concordia University.

“I was getting back into soccer and I got a job at Sienna Heights University as the soccer coach and they started the E-Sports program up and I fell into that job because I thought it was a perfect job for me because it’s coaching, it’s working with college students, and it’s gaming, something I was really interested in at the time, so I took my two passions and put them in one job.”

An area Goodman plans to focus on as Head Coach is the players mannerisms while competing for Finlandia.

“It’s usually them just playing at their house and they can say whatever they want. They can have bad manners, they can get upset, and coaching that personality is something that is one of my major jobs is to coach them to play at a professional level.”

The recruitment process has been concluded, but Thomas hopes to interest some of Finlandia’s current students.

“We added 11 games, so the goal is to have a big net to gravitate as many people as we can and get them into the university to start competing next years.”

Goodman has been the E-Sports Director at Sienna Heights University in Adrian, Michigan for the last two years. He built a successful program down there and he said he’s excited to start a brand new program with Finlandia.

“Finlandia is putting a pretty big financial commitment and academic commitment to E-Sports,” said Goodman.

“That was one of the things that drew me up there is that there is a commitment for the students that I haven’t seen many other E-Sport programs commit to. A lot of the E-Sports programs are just being created to just bring in numbers, whereas, I have a feeling that we are more looking towards the academic side and improving students knowledge of everything.”

Goodman has been designing the E-Sports facility himself and expects great things to come.

“Our space is going to be pretty cool. I’ve seen some of the early renderings and it’s going to be a pretty amazing space. It’s going to be a space that bigger colleges would be begging to have, so it’s going to be pretty exciting for Finlandia.”

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