Seton Catholic to create eSports team beginning next school year - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Seton Catholic to create eSports team beginning next school year

May 24th, 2021 development
Seton Catholic to create eSports team beginning next school year
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira
Sports Editor

Seton Catholic Prep announced Tuesday, May 4 its plan to create an eSports team beginning next school year.

The team will compete in the eSports league hosted by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, which hosted its inaugural season in 2020 and continues to grow.

“We have a rich history at Seton Catholic of providing these opportunities for our students and them rising up to participate in multiple things,” Seton Catholic Principal Victor Serna said. “No matter your interest, you can find something at Seton for you. This is a wonderful opportunity to invest in our students and give them a well-rounded Catholic education.”

The start of the eSports program is in response to a questionnaire sent out to current students and those at local middle schools that feed into Seton Catholic. Serna said the demand was overwhelming, with over 70 percent of the students who responded saying they would be interested in joining if it were offered.

Along with Serna, Terry Licht, Seton Catholic’s assistant athletic director, has been a driving force in the implementation of the eSports program at the school. A gamer himself, Licht recognizes most students get involved in some sort of video game, no matter the genre.

In an effort to have as many students as possible involved in an extracurricular activity, eSports will present a new opportunity for those interested to play games they enjoy while representing the school.

“We see it as a new opportunity to reach a different kid,” Licht said. “We just want to give kids the opportunity to participate in an extracurricular that is kind of out of the box. They game at home so why not give them an opportunity to represent the school and compete for a state title.”

Seton Catholic prides itself on student involvement. Serna said it isn’t uncommon to see athletes play in a sporting event one day and appear in a music concert another. Administration and coaches don’t encourage a student to limit themselves to just one sport or activity.

The more a student does, the better they get to know their peers and create a comfortable environment in the school.

Both Serna and Licht hope the new eSports program will offer those same opportunities. Kids who stick to a certain genre of game will have the opportunity to experiment with others. The program currently plans to offer the same games sponsored by the AIA, including Rocket League, League of Legends, Madden ’21 and FIFA ’21.

Licht said students will also have the opportunity to compete in other games such as Overwatch, Halo and more to participate in online tournaments.

“This sport is growing so fast,” Licht said. “We almost don’t want to miss the boat in regard to that. We can cater to what the kids are interested in. I comfortably think we will have a good 20 to 25 kids in the fall and I can see it growing fairly quickly.”

While still in the development stage, plans are already in the works to provide adequate gaming computers for students. Seton Catholic hopes to use existing on-campus hardware and update its internal components to handle eSports games, but Serna and Licht said the school is also open to purchasing necessary hardware with the help of boosters and grants.

Overall, they hope to create a one-of-a-kind experience for their students in the form of eSports.

The popularity of eSports has grown to great lengths both at the high school and professional level in recent years. Tournaments take place all over the world in various games with cash prizes soaring into the hundreds of thousands. Some colleges have also started offering scholarships to high school students who compete in eSports at a high level.

Overall, more than 50 schools expressed interest in 2019 when the AIA announced it would sponsor and eSports league. The number has since grown to include several Gilbert and East Valley programs, including Basha, Campo Verde, Chandler, Desert Ridge, Higley and several others.

The AIA has also partnered with Dave & Buster’s in Tempe to host the eSports championships inside of its large conference hall. The same venue has been used the past two years for the football bracket and championship shows live-streamed on the AIA website and YouTube.

Overall, eSports presents new opportunities for students wanting to get involved not only in extracurricular activities in high school, but as a way to potentially shape their college future as well. Serna said that alone is worth the added cost it will take to upgrade hardware and provide other necessities needed for the program.

“It’s an investment we are making as we do with other school-sponsored AIA sports or clubs,” Serna said. “Just like in other sports, we want to make sure we equip our students to be as successful as possible. Hardware is a big component of that. We want them to have a great experience.”

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