Published Dec 6, 2023
Armada Graduates Lead Mentorship Effort for Student Casters
Sportscasting graduates and former varsity casters Quinn Sherr and Bryan Flores give back to the Armada community with a casting mentorship program.
In the Full Sail Armada varsity community, it's not just the players who are integral to the success of competitions. Casters provide in-depth commentary during matches that keeps a viewer on the edge of their seat and can sometimes even steal the show with witty banter, reverie for the perfect move, and a thorough understanding of the game. From play-by-play to color commentary, casters breathe life into a stream, broadcast, or live event while supporting players by sharing their stories through the lens of competitive play.
Just like their fellow Armada members who are participating in competitions, Armada casters receive jerseys, participate in community events, and are eligible for scholarship funds. They are also able to unlock opportunities for gaining real-world experience while in school, casting for unique events including the Special Olympics, youth esports championships, and more.
For Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting grads and former varsity casters Quinn “Qolorblind” Sherr and Bryan “Bryonic” Flores, the Armada caster program created a space to grow and share their passion for esports commentating while they were completing their studies.
“Before casting with Armada, I was just some kid in random Counterstrike lobbies screaming over my teammates’ games. Armada was the first structured cast that I ever had,” said Quinn. “The first night I ever cast Call of Duty was when it really hit me that I'm going to take every opportunity possible. That my childhood dream is right there. I watched MLG, I watched the CWL, I watched everything growing up, and even though collegiate play is a little bit different, it still was that feeling of like, ‘Hey, these are the first people who ever gave me an opportunity to live out this dream that I've had since I was nine years old.’”
Bryan, whose interest in casting stemmed from a lifelong love for traditional sports, found Armada opened up several new opportunities, saying, “Full Sail Armada gave me so many experiences that, in my lifetime, I don't think I would have gotten, casting for the Special Olympics, casting for the XP League. And more than that, they set me up with friendships that will last a lifetime.”
With such positive takeaways from the program, Bryan and Quinn – who first connected while casting together for XP League’s North American Finals in 2022 – knew they wanted to find a way to give back to the organization that had served them so well, and decided to launch a graduate-led mentorship initiative that would help guide casters through their successes and difficulties in the varsity track.
“While working XP League, I just had the realization that I wasn't going to be [at school] forever. And I knew that Quinn wasn't going to be there forever. He just graduated, which really got me thinking [that] we need to get something going here,” said Bryan about the dawn of the plan.
Quinn was quickly on board, having been inspired by mentoring sessions with successful Armada alumni including Call of Duty League caster Landon “LandO’ Sanders and Valorant caster Gus “Upmind” Domingues.
“I’ve had VOD reviews with “LandO”…I’ve had VOD reviews with “Upmind”. And those VOD reviews have given significantly more to me than any of my reps have ever done for me. LandO literally pointed me at the map and was like, ‘All right, you're looking here now from now on,’ and completely changed the way that I cast Call of Duty in a matter of 20 seconds. So that was something that I came to Bry with because I know that he had already put the seed there.”
Working together to draft a proposal, the grads met with Bennett Newsome, Full Sail’s Director of Esports Growth & Development, to get the project off the ground.
“When any grad is like, ‘Hey, I want to give back.’ I mean, that's in our DNA at Full Sail," says Bennett. "So when they came to me and said, ‘Hey, we want to do this thing. We don't know how much time or what we can do, but we want to be involved. We want to help improve this. We want to help grow this into something special.’ That was huge.”
Taking note of their own experience casting with Armada and other organizations, Bryan and Quinn introduced systems for scheduling, communication, and feedback to help casters in the program be more successful in their craft.
“Something that they brought early on in their mentorship was like, ‘Hey, this is what Call of Duty League uses for their talent. Let's mimic that. Let's get this together.’ And so that was a big upgrade, that they brought to the system,” says Bennett.
Working with Armada’s current caster roster, Quinn and Bryan provide mentorship through VOD reviews, regular check-ins, and an open-door policy for students looking for genuine feedback from casters who were recently in their shoes.
“Honestly, it's like a study hall for them where they get to talk to us. We've been through the trenches, we've been through the battleground, we went through this one class and it was really hard for us, but this is what we did to get through it,” says Bryan.
The peer-to-peer model of the mentorship program lends itself to more authentic feedback from a relatable source according to Bennett.
“Feedback from someone that's gone through the program and has experienced that and experienced it from the esports perspective on both fronts, I think is really important. So when we talk about mentors, whether that's in the competitive teams or in casting, I think the road traveled is important for a lot of these students. A lot of the casters look up to Quinn and Bryan, and the ability to work alongside them I think is a huge deal. And that really can help not only motivate but also elevate other people in that same space.”