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Local teachers, students gear up for Esports to become official CHSAA activity

Posted at 6:01 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 21:21:57-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Esports also known as competitive gaming is getting more popular.

The Colorado High School Activities Association is trying to get the sport in almost all of the state high schools to prepare the next generation of gamers. To help that happen, the organization created a two year pilot program that helped administrators establish the sport, get equipment, and train coaches and staff. It also flushed out any potential problems with creating it.

Harrison High School in Colorado Springs is among 100 schools that participated in the pilot program.

"Someone pursued me to join the team because they had heard I liked playing video games. We have Super Smash Brothers, League of Legends, and Rocket League," said Mariana Marquez, Harrison High School student.

Marquez joined the Harrison High School Esports team when it was created last fall. She started playing video games at age 14.

"It's been really hard for me to get into it because I am a girl. My mother never let me play video games, I had to do it on my own time," said Marquez.

Overcoming stigma to do what she loves most, and getting her family to see her passion for competitive gaming.

"When I told my mom you can get scholarships for Esports and lots of money, she opened up to it. I think she was more willing because I was going to dedicate myself to a team," said Marquez.

More importantly, paving the way for more young girls to join the sport. It is mostly male dominated.

"There are very few women who I see in professional Esports. I am fine with doing this because it is going to show my position, and how I feel about it," said Marquez.

"It is fun to do, I've always loved video games. It is something where I can express myself," said Ian Sowerby-Passmore, Harrison High School student.

Since joining the team, Sowerby-Passmore says it has helped him grow intellectually.

It helps me control my emotions, and make me a better strategist. It also makes you think the same time you're doing something," said Sowerby-Passmore.

The sport has also create a much-needed support system for students like Charlie Anderson.

"Coming to the video game club, I feel like I've met people who've made me, me," said Anderson.

Harrison High School Esports Coach Thomas McCartney jumped at the chance to be a part of the pilot program.

"We really did get this off of the ground, bringing in our own stuff, bringing in our own systems, really funding this because we loved it so much," said McCartney.

He wanted to foster a safe environment for kids to be themselves.

"Being able to give kids who don't have the traditional athletic prowess a platform to show off their skills," said McCartney. "Once upon a time if you played video games, you were considered a little awkward or not an athlete. With the explosion of video games, everyone plays. That means athletes are looking at video games and Esports athletes as viable athletes."

McCartney says Esports can teach kids valuable life skills.

"They learn sportsmanship, teamwork, problem solving skills, and competition. Also, I think they are learning that they have a family and to be able to be there for one another," said McCartney.

The pilot ends this school year, and Esports becomes an official sanctioned CHSAA activity.

"Recognition is always a wonderful thing. To be able to tell these kids, hey do you want scholarships, lettermen jacket, pin for video gaming. Yes, they do. They are able to take the legitimacy along with the C-H-S-A-A name and say this is a viable sport that I can participate in and get the same respect," said McCartney.

"There are so many kids who separated themselves, they haven't had any hobbies at school, I think this will create a safe space for them," said Marquez.

The first Esports Championship is planned for December 3 in Lakewood, Colorado.