Updated: Dec 17, 2020
By Jamie Wiggan
Concluding its second competitive season, Cornell High School’s Esports team advanced to the playoffs of the North American Scholastic Esports Federation before suffering defeat in the first round of regional play Dec. 1.
Entering through a soccer-style vehicular game called “Rocket League,” the team qualified by ending its regular season among the top 16 in the state.
They lost their bid in the Fall 2020 High School Scholastic Tournament to members of the Penn Manor High School team from Lancaster, Pa.
Educators involved in the program say, by working together over the five game regular season, the seven player team refined communication and strategy skills while having fun in the process.
“Something people don’t always think about with Esports is that they’re collaborating together, they’re working as a team,” said Kriss Hupp, Cornell’s technology director. “Communication is extremely important, strategy is extremely important.”
Cornell fielded an Esports team for the first time last year in response to recruitment efforts by the Emerald Foundation, a Lancaster-based non-profit organization that promotes the E-Sports among Pennsylvania schools.
Tavis Bogue, head coach and high school chemistry teacher, said as a long-time gaming enthusiast he was excited to share his appreciation with students in an educational setting.
“It is exciting to be able to work with students who share that same interest and to see students who may not typically get involved in formal school activities participating and working together as a team,” he said.
“Many of the activities we have been doing tie in with our regular curriculum and STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts, math] education, with a large emphasis on the 21st Century Skills that will benefit the students when they move on beyond high school,” said Bogue.
This year, while schools attempt to limit close physical interaction to slow the transmission of COVID-19, Hupp said Esports provide a safe way for students to interact and stay engaged. The team currently holds meetings and practice from home using a virtual platform called Discord.
“In the context of Covid with all the isolation we’re feeling, I think this is a really great opportunity,” he said.