Esports in City Schools Teach More Than Video Games – Business Journal Daily

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Charles Stark wanted to do something for students in the Youngstown City School District, seeing how disconnected they had become as COVID-19 forced many into remote learning.

The response was to commit $86,000 to outfit and completely redesign a classroom at East High School with dedicated computers, game controllers and large screens for a new eSports — or esports — curriculum, Stark says .

“We’re still in the early stages of managing the team,” says Stark, district esports program director. “The sky’s the limit for this program,” he adds, noting that it has an annual budget of $6,000.

Ultimately, the goal is to expand the program and encourage Chaney High School and Youngstown Early College to form their own teams, he says.

East’s team – an extension of the athletics department – has 14 students and five coaches who play Overwatch and Rocket League.

More games will be added and there could be a varsity, a junior varsity and two club teams with seven students on each – all with the potential to join the Esports Ohio league.

Gallery images include Dennis Yommer training Onesimo Vivar Vega on Overwatch, and Braylun Anderson and Angel Centeno playing Rocket League.

The computers came from ByteSpeed ​​LLC in Minnesota, while the decals came from RL Smith Graphics in Youngstown. Wayne Mackey, founder of Statespace, which enhances esports athletes through different mediums, donated $46,000 to this YCSD project.

Program coordinator for English language learners and esports coach Dennis Yommer said the numbers could double in the 2022-23 school year when they add popular games such as Super Smash Brothers and Fortnite. .

Esports is a competitive online game.

“When we consider a sport in the traditional sense, there has always been some form of sports involvement,” Yommer says. “What’s unique about esports is that it takes all the other elements defined by a sport and applies them to something a student can do and compete on a personal computer, Xbox or PlayStation.”

Accountability, teamwork, leadership are all important parts of the program, as is practicing unity and developing a competitive spirit.

“It’s just with a game that’s played online rather than in person,” Yommer says.

It does not look at those who have mastered these games, but who have personality traits or qualities comparable to those of a traditional sport like football or basketball.

For Overwatch, there are three distinct roles such as quarterback, running back, and wide receiver in football. Only in this case it is a tank, support characters and damage characters.

He explains that damage characters should be outgoing, energetic – have an awareness of the pitch like a wide receiver.

Support characters are comparable to running backs and quarterbacks — backfield players who need to know when it’s time to move and pass the ball, he says. Tanks are like an offensive line, providing protection for the rest of the team.

“For a seeker to be successful in these roles, they must possess different qualities or characteristics,” Yommer says.

Braylun Anderson, a senior at East High School, sees the benefits of teamwork, communication and fun, the same things you would see when he plays rugby for his school.

This is part of the process to help him once he leaves high school with teamwork and communication skills.

“When you enter college, you need communication skills,” he says. “If you’re going straight into the workforce and not into college, you still need to know how to work with people you don’t know, how to get along with people, and how to communicate the right way.”

For second-year student Angel Centeno, it helps him communicate better with others.

“I really don’t talk to people,” he says. “In the future, I’m thinking of changing that.”

Senior Onesimo Vivar Vega played competitive video games, but not as intense as esports. These games require those who play to have a good team and communicate with each other.

He says you can continue to play esports at the college level, teaching the concepts of video games.

“I want to be a game designer,” Vivar Vega said. “Playing video games more often can help me understand how I want to create my games.”

Stark says his team is also working on creating a YouTube channel and other social media accounts such as Discord and Twitch – or a commentator to broadcast these contests.

“We’ll have students who actually advertise our games,” Stark says. “A lot of games have features where you can go into spectator mode and you can spin a camera so you can advertise those games like on Monday Night Football.

“It’s super cool and obviously leads to a lot of careers there.”

Eventually, Stark would like students to learn how to upgrade and build their own PCs.

“I feel like we’re building more into the program, really building community here,” Stark says.

Pictured above: East High’s esports program includes sophomore Angel Centeno, coach Dennis Yommer, senior Onesimo Vivar Vega, senior Braylun Anderson and esports program director Charles Stark.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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