In the fall of 2015, the Georgia Southern Sport Management program lost its leader and 16-year veteran professor when Dr. Willie Burden passed away.
A long-time favorite, it didn’t take long for students - both current and former - to begin planning a way to make sure that Burden’s memory isn’t lost on the program.
Last spring, the decision was made to establish a memorial scholarship in Burden’s honor. A video game tournament was held that spring, paving the way for a successful golf scramble held this past fall. Now back for a second turn, the video game tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Hollis Building - home of many sport management classes - and is building up plenty of momentum.
“We’ve had a great response so far this year,” Sport Management professor Dr. Drew Zwald said. “I really think it’s growing into a great event for us. We’ve heard from principals at some middle schools around town and it seems like we have a lot of interest across the board.”
Play will be split into divisions of 17 and under, and 18 and older. Separate competitions will be held for Madden, FIFA, NBA 2K, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart and Street Fighter. Players are welcome to enter into multiple competitions by paying a $10 entry fee for each game they wish to play. The games will begin Friday at 4 p.m., with Saturday’s festivities firing up at 10 a.m.
In addition to prizes that will be awarded to each winner, donated items will also be raffled off. National gaming vendors have responded with support, as have local stores such as GameStop and the university’s Tech Corner.
A bake sale running concurrent with the gaming tournament will also help to raise money in support of the scholarship and the event will also have a presence at the Georgia Southern Arts Fest.
“Our students have done a great job in organizing this,” Zwald said. “Dr. (Emily) Newell’s events marketing class has really taken the lead on all of these events.”
With one of Dr. Burden’s most remembered traits being his commitment to helping his students succeed after graduation, the efforts to fund his memorial scholarship are fitting.
“This will help us with our goal of raising money for the scholarship, but will also do more for our students,” Zwald said. “These events give the a chance to gain experience and leadership. In addition to the good cause, they’re also building up their resumes for down the road.”
For more information on the tournament, contact Dr. Zwald at (912) 478-0091.