WHEATFIELD, Ind. — Recently it was publicized that a Kankakee Valley High School Esports team won a state championship, but exactly what is Esports.
Esports or electronic sports is the organized playing of video games in a competitive setting wrote Kankakee Valley IT employee and Esports coach Nathan Stall. Games are played on a video game console such as an Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch. But may also be played on a personal computer (PC). Not every video game ever made is considered an Esport. Some popular titles include Rocket League, Super Smash Brothers, Smite, Chess, and Overwatch.
“Some think of Esports as students just sitting at home wasting time playing video games by themselves or with friends. In the high school setting, students get a new team environment to play in while also developing their 21st-century skills such as communication, critical thinking, and collaboration,” added Stall. “There is exponential growth a student can benefit from being on a team just as they would in a traditional high school sport like basketball or tennis. It even gives students who would not have participated in a traditional extracurricular the pathway to participate in something they are passionate about.”
Esports can open the door to other opportunities including college scholarships.
“Esports is also more than just playing games,” Stall added. “Students can take advantage of the many career paths offered such as marketing, social media management, IT support, journalism, and graphic design. Esports paves the way for students to earn college scholarships by competing. This comes down to overall skill in the game they play, their rank they achieve in the game, and being an overall team player or leader on the team. Many colleges in our great state of Indiana as well as Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois offer scholarships for Esports. To name a few colleges that offer scholarships Manchester University, Valparaiso University, and Ball State University.”
This year Kankakee Valley had one team make it to the grand finals for the state playoffs and win the state championship. This was their Rocket League Red team. This team went undefeated in the regular season against 14 other schools in their division.
The team consisted of the following students:
- Gage Fabish – sophomore
- Quentin Walker – sophomore
- Ben Minix – sophomore
- Danika Vega — freshman
Kankakee Valley High School competes in the Indiana High School Esports Network which is a league for all high schools in Indiana. It is similar to the IHSAA for traditional sports. Currently, IHSEN is in its second year and has around 50 schools participating in the following titles:
- Super Smash Brothers
- Rocket League
- Forza Motorsport 7
IHSEN consists of six-week seasons with statewide playoffs to crown state champions. This happens two times a year once in the fall and once in the spring. Competing schools are put into different divisions (1A or 2A) depending on school size.