eSports Catching on as Varsity Sport at Durango High

10/24/2022

Competitive video gaming, known as eSports, is now an officially sanctioned varsity sport in Colorado. Durango High School has fielded three teams who are competing against other schools across the state. With a low barrier to entry, the activity is an easy lift from a budgetary standpoint. Proponents point to teamwork, communication and inclusion as benefits the activity can offer students. This story is sponsored by Pops Truck and RV Center and The Payroll Department

For the first time ever, local high school students are getting the option to choose controllers instead of cleats for their after school activity. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Pop's Truck and RV Center and The Payroll Department. I'm Connor Shreve. Competitive video gaming is now an officially sanctioned high school sport in Colorado, and some students at Durango High School are joining the school's newest team.

So eSports is new across the country and new to Colorado and very new here to Durango High School. So it's a chassis-sponsored sport, technically, in the state of Colorado. And students are gaming against other schools. So just like a basketball team or a football team would have a team of players competing against other schools, we have teams here competing in video gaming virtually with schools across the state of Colorado.

Coach Roxie Mitchell was the school's game design teacher and wanted to be on the forefront of the fastest growing sport in the country.

So I think we're just in a changing world and a changing atmosphere. You know, gamification is a big thing right now in a lot of different industries, not just in video games and video game design. But it starts to connect kids with that industry.

After school, a typical computer lab transforms into an arena for team members to practice, scrimmage, or compete against gamers from other schools over a live stream.

It was a way for me to get back into sports after I stopped playing 'cause it's just one of a kind game, pretty unique. And am I going to take this anywhere? If I could get into a college and play eSports for there, yeah, I would love to.

When senior, Ethan Pepperdine, learned Durango High School was adding an eSports team, he was quick to check if "Rocket League" was one of the games The Colorado High School Activities Association had approved for competition. After all, he'd been playing it with friends for years.

Ryan Knorr, he's the Athletic Director, and about, "Hey, I've been playing "Rocket League" with all of my other friends for a while now, and I'm just wondering, will you have a "Rocket League" team?" He said, "Yes." And we kind of just situated it, figured it out, signed up, got some of our friends to join, and now I'm here. Well, we're here.

The two games the administration chose to compete in during its inaugural season, "Smash Brothers Ultimate" and "Rocket League." In their first match, DHS earned a win against Greeley in the final seconds.

They were so stoked, so it was such a exciting way to start the season and just get the spirit going on the team.

We generally have an idea 'cause it's not like your typical sport 'cause it's electronic, it's online. We face people all day, constantly, across the world at our own houses. We know how good we are. We know how good other people can be. But it was definitely nice knowing that we were not just some bottom-feeding people, that we could actually win, and we would go competitive in the state of Colorado.

That win required communication and teamwork. Both are skills eSports proponents say it can help students build, and in part, because the cost of starting a new team is so low, don't expect eSports to disappear anytime soon.

I think it's just going to keep growing. I mean it, there's not a day that I don't have another student who hears about it or comes to ask about it, that it's like, oh, you can do, like how do I get involved with that? You know, and so I think with the word spreads, I mean, I think we have a lot of kids out there that would be interested in it. And it grows and spreads and gets some momentum, I mean, there's schools in Colorado that have a hundred kids on, you know, gaming. And so I think once this gets the ball rolling, I think we're going to have some really competitive teams and high participation here at Durango High School.

Thanks for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Connor Shreve.

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