For the second season being officially sanctioned under NMAA, Head Coach Jesse Griffith has his team training for competition heading into 2020. The two games played in official competition for Socorro will be ‘League of Legends’ and ‘Rocket League’.
“I grew up playing video games all my life,” Griffith said. “I was always watching E-Sports and seeing how far it has grown and I wanted students who were interested in it to be able to have an outlet in terms of enjoying themselves together and interact.”
Griffith received a masters degree at the University of Texas in Dallas and is entering his third year teaching visual arts and digital media. He was a big fan of playing ‘Heroes of the Storm’, but never competed.
Previously E-Sports was not recognized as an official sport at the high school level. Now that it is officially sanctioned by the NMAA through the PlayVS program, students are able to potentially receive academic letters which could lead to scholarship opportunities.
Five players minimum are required for each particular game. During its first season of sanctioned competition the SHS team competed in both ‘Rocket League’ as well as ‘Counter-strike: Global Offensive’. The group lost in the first round of competition during its 2019 campaign. The website twitch.tv has also helped in growing the interest of E-Sports at SHS. All students are now required to do grade checks just like any other sport.
Club President and junior Jazlywnn Montoya is entering her first year with the E-Sports league and was excited to try something new.
“I was just like ‘you know what, why not’ and so I ran for president,” she said. “I thought why not try something new which I also love myself. It has been a great way to get out of my shell which I am so happy about. ‘League of Legends’ is definitely my game. I am one for character design which I love. For anybody that thinks this is nerdy, come be around us. We have so much fun playing and it is such a positive place to be. E-Sports, for me, takes my mind outside of reality and I love being taken to a different place. You can focus on that instead of the outside problems that we have.”
Brian Peters, a senior and top end Warriors Boys Soccer star, loves hitting the keyboard for a match of ‘Rocket League’ whenever possible.
“I’ve got roughly 800 hours in that game which is why I feel most experienced there,” he said. “It is hard for us going up against bigger schools such as West Mesa because they have thousands of potential players. But our team works their tails off to compete every round. The chemistry our team has is a big deal.”
“E-Sports is selling out arenas and it is one of the fastest growing sports in the world,” Coach Griffith said. “That is why we wanted to get kids involved because it opens so many opportunities for students. A big thanks to our A.D. (Alex Johnson) for supporting this program. Our challenge is figuring out what games the kids enjoy the most and what they want to play. As a coach I just want to encourage these kids to have fun playing games if that is what makes them both learn as well as brings them happiness. We’ve got a lot of joking between one another around here.”
Griffith cites the need for materials such as head sets and updated computer equipment to help support the program. He is currently working on various grant programs to continue the growth of E-Sports, but an update in equipment is required for players to become more competitive both state and nationwide. If you would like to support this up and coming phenomenon here in Socorro, or to get your child involved, contact the high school athletic department for more information.