Spring Mills Excessive E-Sports activities crew gives college students pathways to shiny futures and a spot to belong | Journal-news

MARTINSBURG – During Jacob Dawson’s sophomore year at Spring Mills High School, he and several other interested students and staff formed the first esports team in the region and possibly the state.

Although the start-up process was tedious, Dawson said at the end, the group at Spring Mills High School was able to create a space for creative, tech-savvy kids to gather and share their interests with like-minded people.

“I was there from day one, from the paperwork to the actual get-togethers and games,” said Dawson. “We didn’t know what we were getting into. We just wanted something for us children who are not interested in the typical extracurricular activities in schools. “

According to Dawson, during its inaugural year the group registered with the North American Scholastic E-Sports Federation and began competing against schools not only across the country but also around the world to improve their skills against other students and build friendships after that Path.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit the area in March 2020 and Dawson and his esports team had to disperse when students were sent home to finish their school year and team activities were canceled. Dawson said the team broke up quite a bit there.

After things returned to normal, the students returned to the classrooms and the need to bring the team back together and play competitive again was there again.

Desiring to restart the team clearly, Dawson said the students wasted no time finding a manager and re-registering for their various tournaments.

“As COVID hit and the new school year started, the club continued to shrink due to distancing and poor communication,” Dawson said. “But when I started talking to friends about getting it back up and running and they were as excited as I was, I knew it was time. We brought everyone together, discussed what this team should be, and got to work. “

When special education teacher Jeremy Hubbard heard that the team was looking for a new general manager after the COVID reboot, he said he was more than excited to take on the role and help group members work towards their goals.

“I didn’t even know the team existed, especially since COVID forced them to cancel the meeting when the schools closed,” Hubbard said. “But a teacher who was the original manager told me about it and said the group was looking for a new manager. I took the chance to help the team. They wanted to be more competitive, more of a real esports team than a club, and I wanted to help them achieve all of their goals. “

Although the group got a late start on the team reopening, Hubbard said there are already roughly 20 to 30 full-time kids on the team, all of whom love a variety of video games and the unique challenges they pose as much as Hubbard does.

Both Dawson and Hubbard agreed that while video games and esports are still an emerging form of sport, the lessons and skills they teach their participants can be carried over to various facets of their daily lives.

“As they play, they not only learn how to play video games, but also how to prioritize teamwork, collaboration and strategy. As a teacher and special education teacher, you are always trying to find ways to keep students interested in what you are teaching them, and video games can help fill that void. Whether reading, problem solving or hand-eye coordination – the students on our team actively develop their skills. “

According to Hubbard, the group’s games include titles like Madden, NHL, FIFA, NBA, Fortnite, Apex Legends, League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch, Smash Brothers, and more.

For some students like Dawson, the skills they gain from playing these various titles can lead to tremendous post-high school opportunities, as the team’s president said he did several esports as a junior in high school. Scholarship offers are received from colleges across the country, from New York to Texas and more.

“And it all started because I was playing a game. It was amazing, ”said Dawson. “It was a lot of fun, especially since I wasn’t a big leader in the club last year, just a charter member, but now I’ve been named president and I have been able to help with these leadership decisions and help build and maintain our team to lead. It was a great experience. “

According to Dawson, while the group and other members are happy to be able to start the competition again, they are just happy to have a creative medium within the school that provides a safe space for students who may not find themselves athletic dispose and celebrate each other’s unique successes on their esports trips.

“West Virginia has a bad rap when it comes to education and technology, but when this little esports team can show up, you’re showing that we are as part of this world as everyone else and that we are talented, right ? Isn’t that great? “Dawson said.” We want to help other children who feel they cannot participate in typical after-school activities feel they have a place, and this is just the beginning for us. It helps with leadership skills , Teamwork, strategy and decision making and really creates a nice network for children to have their unique talents recognized and celebrated. “

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