Esports burgeoning at WFISD

Updated: Feb. 19, 2020 at 6:14 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Wichita Falls high schools are making the first step into esports, starting teams at each of the three high schools.

“We’re probably the first in the region to have an esports program, I know there’s some that want to but it’s kind of cost-prohibitive," WFISD chief technology officer Shad McGaha said. "You can play these on normal computers but it doesn’t perform well.”

That’s why the investment was made into gaming computers for the teams. The focus is only on two games, for now, Rocket League and League of Legends.

“It’s an 8-week league where we’re going up against schools across the state, 64 schools that have esports teams that are in this league, it’s called PlayVS they’re the ones that facilitate the whole thing,” Rider coach and team sponsor Chris Preston said.

Just like other sports, if they do well they get to show off their skills in a tournament at the end of the season. Where they can walk away with prizes for the school and possibly their future.

“The state champions last year are looking at scholarships staring them in the face because when you have state championships all of a sudden all these schools in the state of Texas that have college teams, all eyes are on you just like any other sport,” Preston said.

Like most teenagers, they’re not the biggest fans of school, but these teams give them a chance to be involved in a new way.

“I don’t enjoy school, I enjoy being with friends, which only happens at school. I kind of thought it’d be really great if those two things came together like this and it has, it’s really great,” senior Ashton Smith said.

While also being held to a higher standard in their classes.

“They treat them like any other athlete, if they have bad behavior, they get referrals to the office, those kinds of things get brought up and they miss out on game time," McGaha said. "Same with grades, if they don’t pass they don’t play.”

The Rider team hopes to continue to grow, possibly adding games like Overwatch and Super Smash Brothers to the lineups, as well as expanding the opportunities for what students can learn within the gaming industry.

It’s growth that could come quickly, with the district adding a technology stipend for the esports teams each year.

“This room, we want to expand, we want to get bigger we want to add more students we want to add more interest, we’ve got students around here that aren’t playing, they aren’t part of the team, they want to watch, view, they want to analyze games we want to be able to increase that amount as well,” Preston said.

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