Whether it’s band, sports, chess, or something else, it’s important for every student to find a niche. For 19 youth at the Greensburg Junior High School, their niche comes in the form of esports.
Esports, short for electronic sports, is the term for competitive video gaming. Video gaming has evolved from kids playing around on gaming consoles at home to youth competing in organized matches and leagues. Locally the Greensburg Junior High boasts a 19-member team led by Educational Technology Integrationist Mr. Nick Parcell.
“We began the esports program to involve students in team sports who may not be athletic or engage in other extra-curricular activities,” said Coach Parcell. “We provide a positive outlet for gaming and build connections between students who might lack a sense of belonging.”
The Decatur County Community Foundation helped with some start-up costs for the esports program last year. DCCF granted funds for controllers and editions of the “Rocket League” game to get the team started. The team currently competes in the Garden State Esports League, and next year will compete in the newly formed Indiana Middle School Esports Network.
“Our Rocket League season ended one game earlier than we hoped with a loss in the Garden State Esports semifinal match,” said Coach Parcell. “While it was disappointing to miss the finals, I am incredibly proud of the growth of the team.”
That growth is multi-fold. It includes the way students’ gaming skills have improved. It also includes future plans to develop a media committee to spread the word about the team and its success, providing kids a chance to work on communication skills and gain real world experience. Another sign of growth is an expansion team planned at the high school level for next year.
The Foundation was pleased to play a small part in helping this team get up and running last year. The Foundation is always particularly interested in innovative projects, and the formation of a local esports team certainly qualified.
“The esports program met a unique need for some of our local youth who had interests but no organized outlet,” said Foundation Executive Director Tami Wenning. “We were glad this program filled a void for these students.”
“It is perhaps the students’ confidence and sense of pride that I am most pleased with,” said Parcell. “When the students wear their jerseys you can see how proud they are. It has helped some students come out of their shells a little.”
For information on future grant opportunities through the Decatur County Community Foundation, visit dccfound.org.