YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Video games have grown in popularity and now there are teams at the high school level. One Valley school district is adding a team to compete in Esports.
Charles Stark is preparing for school. He’s the new Esports coach at East High, and in the room the new team will use, they still need more electricity.
Stark has been busy hooking up monitors, preparing to flip the switch.
“I grew up playing video games. My mother told me, don’t sit too close to the TV, and now everything is paying off,” he said.
Stark is in charge of setting up the team. Students from Rayen and Youngstown Early College are eligible to join.
But he realizes this is a unique opportunity, quoting a survey that revealed 75% of students have never tried a sport, club or activity.
“Esports has reached out to those students who have never been involved in anything and given them a place to find their niche,” Stark said.
There are five other Esports teams in the Valley, 400 across Ohio.
East’s team will have 28 players. It can compete online from the school. They’ll play one of four games online against other teams.
“All of the games we’re going to be servicing, they’re not one-on-one games. They’re going to be team competitive games,” Stark said.
Stark believes players will have to show teamwork skills and leadership, that being part of the team can foster more motivation for academics.
“It helps with technology literacy. It helps with problem solving, critical thinking,” he said.
The Esportsters have the same attendance and academic requirements as traditional sport athletes at school.
Sitting down with that game console could also change their life.
“It’s much more than playing video games. Kids can get scholarship and make careers out of this,” Stark said.
Over 200 colleges and universities offer about $15 million a year in scholarships for Esports athletes.
Stark hopes to get some jerseys designed soon for the new team.