- Tempe Union High School District
- TUHSD Newsroom
Congratulations to the Charger Esports Team for Being Awarded a High School Esports League Gaming Lab!
Congratulations to the McClintock eSports Team who was awarded an ESports Gaming Lab that is made up of six, high-end gaming computers that was won through the High School Esports League (HSEL) Gaming Lab Competition. Earlier in the school year, our eSports Club Sponsor Kristie Johnson applied for the grant, and the process took several months to complete. Johnson, her club members, and several teachers met with the HSEL donation committee to express what these computers would mean for their club and the social emotional well-being of their students.
Johnson shared out about the timeline of the application experience and all those involved who helped make this possible for her students; “The original application which included demographic information and team history was originally due by December 31, 2021... We were [then] selected as a semi-finalist on February 2, 2021 and they interviewed me as the sponsor on February 3, 2021.”
She went on to share that the timeline quickly turned into good news for her club and students, and a brand new opportunity for her club; “We were then notified on February 16, 2021 that we were finalists and had our final interview on Monday, February 22, 2021. Mr. Johnson, students, and teachers met on Friday, February 19, 2021 to discuss potential questions and answers. We then had a very successful interview that Monday, at the end of the interview we were notified that we were a winner and would be receiving the gaming lab. All involved were very excited to say the least!”
Johnson along with her co-sponsor, Angel Duarte, have worked very hard to provide this opportunity for their students especially during the challenges of the pandemic. Johnson has been here since the start of the club and she shared the memory of its foundation by saying “Our club started during the 2017-2018 school year when then sophomore Isaak Morgan came into class a little defeated and said, ‘Mrs. Johnson, I am sure it is a no, but I am out of people to ask, will you sponsor an Esports club?’” Duarte has joined the club as a co-sponsor this year helping continue the initiative of providing opportunities for their gamers.
Johnson has personal experience with the gaming industry and went on to share with her sophomore student that she would be elated to sponsor their club; “I asked him what that entailed from his perspective and why they wanted the club. I let him know that my son was a semi-professional Call of Duty player, and that I had travelled a bit to tournaments with him and local LAN events. I [said I] would be happy to start the club, [and that] my emphasis would be playing, education, and building relationships”.
Their Esports Team gained major traction during the 2019-2020 school year. Johnson expressed that “We had a lot of interest as AIA began recognizing gaming and sanctioning some events. We did not compete with AIA this year as it was a little too expensive, but Fortnite began competition on High School Esports and we fielded a few [new] gamers.”
The growth of the gaming industry and streaming contributed to the growth of their club, but as interest grew the need for equipment became dire; “Our club was up over a 100 people interested, not enough proper equipment to play and the team dwindled to our core group of 25-30”. The interest in their club not only reached the Charger student body, but into the community as well. Johnson shared about the opportunity they had to work with a PHD student, Luis Perez Cortes. “[He] reached out to see how he could help us grow and while he was working on his dissertation that involves the positive impacts that gaming has on education… [He is still with us]. We looked into holding meetings at gaming studios to allow more students to play, however, it was cost prohibitive, and did not have enough adults to support gaming nights. Our goal still included building a lab, earning money for gaming jerseys, and outreach”.
And this grant is certainly the start to keeping up with the exponential growth of their club and the gaming industry. The pandemic has certainly thrown a wrench in the club’s goals and plans for their gamers; “2020-2021 has been difficult as we were not allowed to compete early on and students were not excited to meet via google meets. Half of the appeal for the club is to play games, the other half is to be with each other, build teams, and have that social emotional connection with people who have a similar interest”.
Johnson shares that there was a bright spot in this year, which was that she was able to gain a co-sponsor. She also knows that her gamers are strong, and that when the dust begins to settle she will have a strong team behind them despite their current challenges; “ I was very lucky to finally gain a co-sponsor after reaching out the previous two years. We are very happy to have Angel Duarte officially helping out. We have 20 members registered with about 10 active, many others said when we are back in school they will rejoin, and recruitment was tougher this year trying to reach students”.
The future is bright for the Charger Esports Club, and they are eager to continue to grow and game with one another. Johnson shares that ultimately their goal for the next year is to provide opportunities for the gamers; “Our goal is to build and expand our NEW gaming lab, earn money for gaming jerseys’, community outreach through gaming, and begin to earn scholarship money for our gamers”.
Congratulations again to the Chargers Esports Team for their new Gaming Lab! This lab is only the start of the club’s growth on campus and in the community!