In the first of a series of profiles covering people in esports who enjoy physical sports and demonstrate their benefits, we interview Mike “Gregan” Ellis, Renault Sport Team Vitality’s Rocket League Team Manager.
Mike tells us why he plays ultimate frisbee and also enjoys bouldering, how these activities boost his mental health and his esports life.
These profiles follow our announcement of the esports/sports activity week at West Ham Foundationand our backing of the #RightToBeActive campaign.
Name: Mike “Gregan” Ellis
Job title: Renault Sport Team Vitality Rocket League Team Manager
Favourite esport: Rocket League
Favourite physical sport: Ultimate frisbee (cricket, fitness and bouldering too!)
What does your current role in esports involve?
There are so many little jobs to be a team manager, but the basis of my job is to be the team parent whilst also being the communication route between players and senior team at Team Vitality, as well as from the organisation to tournament organisers.
The busiest time is organising travel logistics for events and being at those events to look after the players.
What sports or physical activities do you take part in outside of esports?
I currently do bouldering (rock climbing) as my main sport and am a sports performance intern at my university, where I help coach and deliver fitness sessions with the elite athletes at the university.
I love getting people fit and educating people on how to do it whilst also training myself. I also still play ultimate frisbee and touch rugby sociably at my university, and I have spent my whole life playing cricket, so I very easily pick it back up every summer!
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for me to be active and away from the internet. Not only is sports activity a great way to improve mental health, but the social side of sport is amazing.”
When did you start this and how regular is it?
I have done so many different sports throughout my life, but if we limit to bouldering and ultimate Frisbee then it will save you my life story as I have done cricket, football, rugby, badminton, volleyball, golf, tennis and tried most sports throughout my life!
With bouldering, I started regularly in the summer. I live in Sheffield which is great for climbing, and I have always wanted to be better at controlling my body weight in fitness. I have been going for three months and am loving it!
I was first introduced to it by a friend when I was in Los Angeles over a year ago and have wanted to get into it since then, I just needed time.
I played ultimate frisbee I played at school. I was quite lucky as most schools don’t play it, but this meant when I went to university I was one of the best freshers and was quickly picked up and shown the ways! I would highly recommend to anyone who just started university or is going soon to give ultimate frisbee a go, as it’s a fun sport and quick and easy to pick up, but hard to master.
Everyone is in a similar boat at uni, so you’ll all be beginners learning together from the experienced third and fourth years.
Why do you do these activities? What do you get out of them?
An iconic part of ultimate frisbee is the lack of referee: the sport is self-officiated. The rules are set around this and it means that everyone plays fairly in the ‘spirit of the game’ where the players make the calls as they tend to have the best view.
Ultimate frisbee has the potential for amazing moments. Just search ‘Ultimate Frisbee highlights’ on YouTube and you’ll see a mass of diving catches, high catches and amazing throws. These are the moments we play for!
Also, bouldering is great fun as it’s problem solving with your body. You see a route and must work out how your body will do it. I also enjoy being in the climbing gym for 2-4 hours at a time with a few friends. There’s a lot of rest time between climbs so it’s very sociable.
Because you have chalky hands and you are by the walls, I rarely check my phone in the gym. This means bouldering is my escape from work and the internet in general. Ultimate frisbee is great because all you need is an open space, eight cones (or you can use jumpers or anything else to make two endzone areas) and a disc.
How does doing this sport or activity affect your mental health? And would you say it helps improve your esports work in some way?
HUGELY! I cannot stress enough how important it is for me to be active and away from the internet. Not only is sports activity a great way to improve mental health, but the social side of sport is amazing.
Meeting new people, sharing great moments with friends and having people to talk to about struggles, or your amazing achievements. Every time I have escaped a phase of bad mental health, it’s been following a day with loads of sport with friends, or going for lunch with a friend I met through sport and getting my problems off my chest (and working out how they can be accountable).
On a gaming note as well, I find I have much better gaming sessions with less tilt and more consistency having exercised. You can be more alert and much happier when playing after exercise.
What similarities are there between your esports work and sports activities, if any?
During university I was club captain of the ultimate frisbee club and helped a lot with general sports activity organisation at the university.
The idea of doing voluntary work in sports committees at university is so important when starting work in esports team management. We had to book travel, book venues, book practice, engage with tournament organisers, run extra events, push social media and social events and meet with the bosses of sport at university. All these jobs draw parallels to esports team management. Essentially, I just do more of that now but I get paid to do it and don’t have to worry about procrastinating my degree!
“I have met so many of my closest friends through sport, and because gaming is online, it’s hard to get the same benefits. Nothing can ever replace human connections – and sport is the best way to get that.”
What would you say to esports fans who don’t currently do much physical exercise? What would you say to encourage or inspire them?
In the words of Shia Labeouf: ‘JUST DO IT!’
Physical exercise has so many benefits for your physical health which I am sure you know, but the benefits to mental and social health are sometimes undervalued.
Being more in control of your emotions, having more energy and spending time away from the internet with in-person friendships is so important to help you stay healthy.
I have met so many of my closest friends through sport, and because gaming is online, it’s hard to get the same benefits. I, like many of you, spend my evenings in a Discord with my gaming friends who I love and enjoy their company, but nothing can ever replace human connections, and sport is the best way to get that.
Are you part of a specific team or club you’d like to give a shoutout to?
The University of Sheffield Ultimate Frisbee Club is amazing and it’s who I’ve spent most of my university life with. There are great socials and so many opportunities to play and learn.
Climbing Works in Sheffield is amazing and my go to place for bouldering. There are great routes, lovely people and some amazing climbers there to inspire noobs like me.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Try something new! It’s easy for me to say as I am someone who has loved trying something new my whole life, but humans love learning. Try a new sport, maybe give a performing art a go, or dancing which combines the two!
All activities have some things in common: they are sociable, they are active, they require learning.
Humans are built to learn, socialise and be active so why not get stuck in?