OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - The world of electronic gaming has grown by leaps and bounds over recent years.
This is so much the case that esports has become a widely recognized competitive sport around the country, even among schools in the Tri-State area.
At the request of many of its students, Owensboro Innovation Academy decided to start its own esports program, which is definitely seen as innovative when compared to other local schools.
“It means quite a bit,” senior Sam Tucker said. “Ever since my freshman and sophomore year, I’ve been like, ‘Hey, we should have an e-sports team here.’ I know most schools in Owensboro don’t have one, so it just makes our school stand out a little bit more, and it lets me play a game I’m very passionate about on a competitive level.”
Esports are more than just video games. Students build character, learn teamwork and apply strategic thinking.
Meanwhile, some students might even earn a scholarship to play esports on the collegiate level.
“It’s been really great for some of our students to get to know each other, especially this year having been hybrid, so they’re building those friendships,” OIA esports head coach Logan Walker said. “I got a little advantage playing basketball because I was born six-foot-six, whereas gaming is not reliant on that physical skill. It’s more mental preparation, reaction, strategy.”
There are many types of games that competitors play from Rocket League, to League of Legends, as well as Madden NFL and FIFA Soccer. In order to play though, students must have the grades.
“We have students who were interested, who were missing some work, and I said, ‘I’d love for you to play, but you’re missing some assignments, so get those things done and turned in,’” Walker said. “Having that extra curricular activity sort of motivates some students.”
“This is something we can do out of school and all be together and playing,” junior, Gray DeGraw said. “And I think it’s just a great thing.”
Some colleges offer scholarships to play esports, and some of these OIA students aspire to play at the next level after they graduate high school.
The team’s first match is scheduled for Thursday.