Auburn High School Esports program continues to grow
AECSD Public Information Specialist
Like an increasing number of schools, Auburn High School has an Esports program where players can compete against students from schools across the area as well as the East Coast.
The program, which is currently led by science teacher Brian Bealer, started in February 2022 with help from technology teacher Joe Sheppard.
“It's growing, as the word gets out, I've been having more and more people show up,” Bealer said. “I just had a couple kids come to me last week who want to join us.”
Players can earn varsity letters like other Auburn athletes. Matches are held weekly and games such Ultimate Smash Brothers, chess, Splatoon 3, Minecraft, and Mario Kart are offered.
Esports is hosted in a computer lab at Auburn High School. After classes end, the students come to room D304 where they log in and enter a queue where they wait to face an opponent of equivalent skill based on their ranking so it’s a match of equal levels.
Auburn is competing in the High School Esports League (HSEL), which was founded in 2012 as a group of high school students who wanted to host and play in League of Legends tournaments. According to HSEL, it has expanded into more games and competitions, and it began requiring school-sanctioned clubs and teams. HSEL, a part of Generation Esports, has grown to more than 200,000 registered users and over 7,000 partner schools.
“This is our first year participating with HSEL,” Bealer said. “Last year we used PlayVs because HSEL didn't support any of the Nintendo games. They just made a deal with Nintendo to have them this year.”
Last year Auburn had teams that played Smash make it into the playoffs, but only one made it to the second round.
What makes Esports appealing to some students is that even if they choose not to compete, they can still practice and hone their skills. It can be a place where they can meet other gamers and have fun.
“With high school Esports, they have a training ground, so even if they can't compete in the season they can still go in there and compete against other people just for the fun of it,” Bealer said.
At the end of the six-week regular season there are playoffs and if good enough, a player can advance to regionals and possibly win a national championship.
Bealer said Esports is a great way to get students involved in an extracurricular activity.
“It's a chance to actually participate in clubs outside the school day, that they wouldn't normally do,” he said. “I know they're always waiting at the door for me before I even get in here. So, it's something for them to look forward to, to come to school. I don't know if they're really concerned about scholarships but they're having fun. That's what it should be. That’s the main thing; they have fun. I love kids to just come and play games even if they don't want to compete because at least they get invested in school.”
In less than two years, Bealer has seen the Auburn Esports program establish itself as a popular activity that can even reach greater heights.
“I hope that it just continues to grow,” he said, “that we can continue to grow and offer more.”