The Howard University community is celebrating a new achievement this week. The Hilltop, Howard University’s newspaper, reported that the University’s Call of Duty Esports team,“Cold Steel” was awarded $80,000 for winning the 2023 Mountain Dew Real Change Esports tournament.

Mountain Dew Real Change Fund

The Mountain Dew Real Change Esports tournament is funded by this “Real Change” opportunity fund. The fund was created to help Black entrepreneurs who are current students or recent alumni from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), with existing PepsiCo relationships, turn seedlings of ideas into businesses or scale existing ventures.

The Mountain Dew Real Change Challenge supports gamers of color at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) by sponsoring the national HBCU Esports tournament, in partnership with CXMMUNITY. Howard’s success in the tournament was no surprise to Christopher Peay, co-founder and chief marketing officer of “Cxmmunity.” “Howard’s success was no surprise to me. The team bought in immediately.”

What Team Members Have to Say

Reese Samuel, a member of the Cold Steel Esports team says that he’s enjoyed being on the team. “We have a lot of team spirit and pride in what we do. It feels good to be seen and noticed. Outside of that, I love the environment that the team creates.”

When the Howard University Esports program and team first began, the university did not have the proper technology to compete. “We had no proper system setups, no proper equipment. We were even on dorm Wi-Fi,” said Deante Taylor, a player on the Cold Steel team.

In due time, however, the university was able to set up partnerships with Cxmmunity and Verizon which provided the university with the resources they needed to be able to practice and compete in the ever-evolving Esports landscape. Cxmmunity and Verizon collaborated with Howard University to build an Esports lab, which has certainly increased practice levels and team bonding.