In learning about esports in high schools, Parentology had the opportunity to interview Dalton Hawkins, the coach for esports at Sandpoint High School in Sandpoint, Idaho. Hawkins gave us insight into how esports have evolved in the school, the standards students are held to and how he foresees the growth of esports. Previously, Parentology has focused on esports becoming a varsity sport at high schools and a new career path. We’ve also featured a teen scoring big bucks online. Read further to learn even more about the new sport that may have your teen all fired up.
How esports made their way to Sandpoint High School
Esports at our school has been around for two years, however an after-school gaming club has existed since I was a freshman at the school 14 years ago. When I moved back and started teaching I took over the prior Video Game Club and converted it to the current Esports Club.
Student Response to the Addition of Esports
Our club has been growing, last year I had a fairly small following of about 10 students. This year we had 15 consistently showing up of 25 who were dedicated. We also had a large influx of players when we offered our first ever In Real Life (IRL) tournament against a nearby team. We surged to 30 players with only about half being from the club beforehand. I have also been working on advertising the club to the younger classes and am expecting a large influx in the next few years.
Impact of Esports on the School
Some of the biggest impacts have been social interactions. We have a few kids that people might think of when they think gamers, but we also have traditional sport varsity athletes playing and now these typically separate groups have a common bond with each other. I’ve seen quite a few friendships form in the group. Sometimes not even because of common game interest but some other random thing. In fact, we are now the default club for some of our school counselors to recommend if a new student says they’re interested in video games.
There’s also an impact in grades as we have a GPA expectation for our players. Below a 2.0 and they get benched. We had more than one player not able to compete this spring because of this. It’s hard on the team because sometimes it meant we had to forfeit the game as we didn’t have enough players.
Competitions Between Schools Happen Various Ways
This past spring season with High School Esports League we competed almost every week. All of those games were remote (i.e. played virtually). As mentioned, we also were able to put together a tournament with a nearby school. We found a neutral location in between our two schools in Coeur d Alene at the Innovation Den and met up for a six-game competition. I know our team had an absolute blast. We’re working on making that IRL event a yearly thing with the hope more schools in the region start joining us.
Do High Schools Benefit Financially from Featuring Esports
We are self-funded in that we fund raise for just about everything. or I buy it personally. [As a coach] I don’t get a stipend, it’s all volunteer work. With that though, we have the ability to use the money as we want. The club officers are given a chance to custom build a computer (within a price limit). We also have fundraising incentives such as being able to earn a custom jersey which is made by Sector Six.
How are Esports in High Schools Evolving and Growing
We’re not a state sanctioned sport or activity, so we don’t currently have any type of state level competition. When we sponsored our IRL event, the “North Idaho High School Esports Championships,” we invited other nearby schools, but ultimately we were the only ones this year. Both the other coach and I hope that esports takes off in the region.