Guilford High School has added an online gaming team to its athletics offerings. Equipment arrived earlier this month for the online sport, called eSports. Guilford already had a club for its gamers, and the idea to pilot a district-sanctioned sport passed through the Project and Planning Committee in February.
The team competes in the High School Starleague – League of Legends Division. Other schools in the state have similar teams: Adlai Stevenson High School, Glenbard North, Neuqua Valley and Naperville North, to name a few. RPS 205 administrators are not aware of any local schools that support this program. But because transportation isn’t a requirement – games are played online – opponents could be statewide, national or even international. Tournaments could also be held in newly renovated RPS 205 auditoriums or libraries.
Administrators hope to capture students’ interests in a school-sponsored event and boost engagement in school. About 15 students at Guilford are participating in the pilot team. In League of Legends, a five-person team is required to play. “We’re excited to support this opportunity for students who already have a passion for gaming and might want to build a career in the video game industry,” said James O’Hagan, Director of Instructional Technology & Library Media Services.
Colleges and universities also offer scholarships to play eSports at the collegiate level. For example, Robert Morris University is offering a scholarship worth half of the tuition, room and board costs for students to play there: http://www.rmueagles.com/article/907.php
“This requires teamwork, concentration, strategy and practice – much like other RPS 205 athletics,” said Mat Parker, Director of Athletic Activities and Program Development. “Offering eSports at the school level is another way to involve our students in a school-sponsored activity and further connect with the overall school experience.”
Equipment – or a lack of equipment – won’t be a barrier for students to join the team. District leaders have $22,000 budgeted for the team. That will supply 11 gamer laptops, plus headphones, microphones, other equipment and uniforms. All equipment and supplies will be district-owned. Administrators are considering other funding sources for upcoming years.