Esports on the rise

District adds esports team to after school activities


Senior Jayden Warfield plays Roblox at the start of Esports practice in an online group with the rest of the team. “Playing games and joking around with your friends is a great experience, Warfield said. It’s a very fun time.” Eagle photo by Peyton Teter.

Most kids run home after school to play video games in their rooms in online groups; however, Plain Local Schools is trying to change that.

GlenOak High School recently began offering Esports after school on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The Esports Program was developed to create an environment that allows students to showcase their strengths online, make friends and also gives them an opportunity to be granted a college scholarship. 

Deputy Principal Brett Niarchos created the Esports lab to promote productivity for students looking for a club that isn’t connected to physical activity. 

The funds for this program came from the COVID relief plan, ESSER. This federal government program financed this afterschool team allowing the students to engage in a social activity while in their comfort zone. 

“[The money] had to go to learning loss, we thought it was a nice option, it’s pretty slick,” superintendent Brent May said.

The advisers of the program are Automotive Career Tech teacher Shaun Fish and Geometry teacher Chris Schorsten.

Fish is a self-described gamer who enjoys going home and playing video games to relax after a long day at work.  Fish is excited about the club and getting to interact with the kids.

“I actually really like video games.  I have been playing since I was four and had hoped to be part of the team,” Fish said. 

When entering the Esports lab, there are rows of gaming systems set up for students to log in and play either Super Smash Brothers or Rocket League. The club is currently trying to get Overwatch added to the list of games they are able to play. 

The lack of choices has been frustrating to team members.  With only two games,  members don’t feel attached to the club.  

“They are very limited.  It’s just the same two games repeated and it gets boring,” freshman Nathaniel Fink said.

Members cite that college sports teams have many games.  Miami University in Oxford Ohio has many different teams that compete in tournaments. They are currently one of the best collegiate esports teams in Ohio with students getting scholarships to come play there.  Games include Hearthstone, League of Legends, NBA2K, Rocket League, Smash, Valorant, Forge and Halo.

OHSAA has not yet fully introduced esports into the athletic program. They do have a section for schools with teams to be classified but they are not administering any official tournaments. If the program would fully introduce esports and create opportunities for competition as well as a list of games included in the competitions. 

Many of the students were wanting an improvement in game variety. While it is recognized that Mature Rated games are inappropriate for a school environment, it is part of the esports world. With the chances of esports being an official sport across the state Mature Rated games is going to come more into question.

“The Administration doesn’t allow any Mature Rated games, which I completely understand. But, when you look at other Esports teams, they have expanded past things like Rocket League,” Fish said. 

The program wants to expand not just with the games they play but also with the members of the team. The group is fairly diverse as it is, yet there is still room for growth. The club has open seats for new members to be a part of something that fellow members value greatly. There are around ten open seats, plus multiple other systems open to be used. 

Many of the kids on these teams are creating bonds with different kids with similar interests to them that they did not know before. Walking in the lab you see a mix of all ages playing together that would not happen outside of the school.

Plans for the future of the team are unknown at this time, as it’s still in its early stages. Members of the team are hoping for the program to fully develop into a higher functioning competitive team. Junior Michael Kesner, a member of Esports, is optimistic for the continuous growth of the club. 

“It’s just a club right now, but if it goes well, it could become a varsity sport,” Kesner said.

There are some opportunities if the team takes off to bring on the chance of college scholarships. Many of these kids are gifted in the online world of gaming with the chance of going professional. Colleges are creating competitive teams and starting to house their own tournaments. Many of the teams members, with work,  would be able to make it on these teams 

The Esports team is creating a completely new experience for students to take part in. Students from around the school are joining to be able to connect and have fun gaming online. If you’re interested, spots are open to join, log on, pick your game, and create camaraderie.