ELHS is part of new wave of high schools adopting Esports as a school program
For many East Lyme High School students, going to sports practices or games after school is part of their daily routines. However, up until now, the school has lacked an activity or group where others can experience the thrill and support that comes with the competition of being on a team. For this reason, ELHS is home to an Esports team, as of this school year.
“Esports are competitive video games like League of Legends and Overwatch; usually (though not always) they are team-based games with one team competing against another to achieve an objective like eliminating the enemy team, scoring a goal, or destroying a base,” said Electronic Gaming Federation CEO and founder Tyler Schrodt in an email.
Esports are a huge industry. According to an ESPN statistic, 205 million people watched or played a form of Esports in 2014.
Senior Isaac Tomblin, captain of the football team, started the Esports team with the help of history teacher Aaron Maddux, the team’s advisor.
“I’ve always been a gamer, so I thought it would be a lot of fun to do something like this,” said Mr. Maddux.
According to Schrodt, each school is assigned a conference with other schools they will compete against in a season. The top team at each level will continue on to state, regional, and national competitions that will be held in-person at various venues.
“Esports are being adopted as a student activity in the state of Connecticut through a partnership between [the Electronic Gaming Federation’s high school league] and CASCIAC for all schools across the state,” said Schrodt. “While they will not directly be categorized as athletics, there are a lot of similarities between the two such as having teams, a regular season, championships, rules, etc.”
The team at ELHS was started to give students an opportunity to bond with other students if they do not want to participate in typical sports. The Esports team does “everything any other sports team does, without physically running around,” according to Mr. Maddux.
“It’ll draw in different groups of people that might not originally sign up for sports,” Tomblin said. “It provides an outlet for someone who has a different personality to get involved and get connected and be a part of a group.”
The team is also supported by many ELHS athletes, who feel that it allows students to be part of a team.
“I like the idea of the new Esports team, as I like to play certain video games myself, and I think it will provide an option for kids who aren’t interested in sports and are more interested in video games,” said sophomore boys’ soccer and track and field athlete Nathan Lichtenfels.
Esports teams not only allow students to experience a team dynamic, but they also help improve students’ social and academic skills.
“By participating in these Esports, students are becoming better communicators… learning how to collaborate better, working on critical thinking by juggling several variables, and becoming more creative,” said Clint Kennedy, manager of the Esports team at New London High School.
Mr. Maddux and Tomblin both invite all interested students to join the team. According to Tomblin, the team “is totally open to whoever.” The team is very excited to start their practices and scrimmages soon and look forward to the Esports movement becoming more popular at ELHS.