Just a month ago e-sports in the spotlight at expo

News / April 16, 2020

PARK HILLS, MO, Apr. 16, 2020 /Daily Journal/ -- The atmosphere at the fieldhouse at Central High School on March 12 felt like any other sporting event. There were players in jerseys, fans cheering, a play-by-play announcer, even a concession stand. But this wasn’t just another game. This was the e-Sports Expo and Technology Career Fair, which brought in about 150 students from 22 schools in the area. Students had a chance to talk to several businesses about their tech careers and to colleges about the tech degree programs they have, as well as their e-Sports offerings and scholarships. There were also computers where students could play games.

Six schools also participated in a Rocket League tournament, which is a computer game where cars push and kick soccer balls. E-Sports teams from Central, Farmington, West County, North County, Arcadia Valley and Richland all took part and received a $500 check from event sponsor Ridge Events to help in starting their programs.

“It’s very exciting because, when I went to high school, I played video games but it wasn’t connected to the schools,” Central e-Sports coach Kevin Pallo said. “But now it’s getting to be a big deal. I see news articles all the time about different schools getting into e-Sports. We’ve got all these college here offering scholarships. It’s a crazy time. The kids are really engaged with it.”

The Central team won the tournament and received a trophy and six new gaming desks, while West County finished second and received six new gaming chairs. The desks and chairs were donated by sponsor Trox, which is an education technology solution provider based in Phoenix.

Each of the six teams in the tournament also received jerseys for their team members with their last names on the back. Those were also donated by Trox.

“That was an awesome thing,” Central junior Paul Reinert said, showing his jersey off.

Because the teams normally face each other while playing in their separate computer labs, West County Coach Darren Cordray said the tournament atmosphere is exciting.

Actually being able to meet face-to-face and actually sit down and play next to your opponents is pretty cool,” Cordray said. “Also you have a bunch of fans who are cheering.”

“It’s nice because you get to know other members from schools,” Reed said.

The expo was planned to be the kick-off of the season for the local teams, but it was also the season finale due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mineral Area College was one of the sponsors and one the colleges at the expo talking to students about its tech programs. Chris Visnovske, who is an IT technician, said MAC has been working with local schools to help them set up their e-Sports clubs. He is also helping MAC set up its own program, which would start in the fall.

“And the way that it’s going to differ from this is: these are clubs right now because MSHSAA hasn’t recognized it as an official sport,” Visnovske said. “I think they are really close though. The thing is there it’s going to be an actual sports team, so it’s going to be treated just like your basketball, your volleyball and all that type of stuff. So we are super excited about it.”

Other colleges in attendance were Fontbonne, Central Methodist and Southeast Missouri State. The Desloge Chamber of Commerce, US Tool Group, Provision Data Solutions, Lee Mechanical Contractors, Tech Firefly and Somethingcool.com were the other businesses in attendance.

Source Daily Journal

Nikki Overfelt

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