Morris Knolls High School concludes first school year of eSports gaming

By Steve Sears

For the 2023 – 24 school year, Morris Knolls High School competed for the first time ever in eSports gaming.

The club kicked off in the fall of 2023, and also has winter and spring seasons where it competes against schools throughout the state. Morris Knolls has three eSports coaches: Rob Moore, who is the fall season coach, and Tom Stief and Dan Mortensen. All three are Business teachers at the school and coach traditional sports as well.

Moore said of the club that numbers as high as 12 per week, “It meets Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday after school. They have practice days, and then they also have competition days, as we compete in the Garden State eSports League. It consists of competing and playing different video games.”

Garden State eSports each season selects the sports (or video games) that the teams will compete in, and the 2023 – 24 school year games were Rocket League, Valorent, and Overwatch. 

Keith Bigora, who has been Morris Hills School District Supervisor of Career and Technical Education (CTE) for seven years, said the school district had seen an increase in interest in eSports throughout New Jersey, including Morris Knolls students.

A conversation about starting a club was initiated last spring.

Bigora said, “Several of our students were asking about it just because they have seen it at other schools. As we began to do some research and were looking at Garden State eSports, you could just see how many schools in the state had already adopted it. We wanted to make sure that we were not behind the curve, but on top of the curve or ahead of the curve.”

One of the reasons Morris Knolls elected to go with Garden State eSports was to give the students an opportunity to connect with each other after school. 

Bigora explained. “They are coming to a common place to socialize and learn some of those soft skills for work that they would not be doing if they were just going home and logging on at 6 p.m. to compete. So, Garden State eSports really kind of fostered that mentality of giving the students an opportunity to connect in a common location after school.”

And e-Sports is also becoming a very lucrative business. Scholarship money is available, and there are also broadcasting and marketing sides of it. Bigora added, “If they (students) are good, and they want to pursue something, we want to make sure that we’re giving them the opportunity to present themselves well in that next step.”

As time has progressed and the Morris Knolls eSports gaming club has competed against other teams in the state, their performance has improved, as has the overall experience.

Moore said, “They are getting better with each opportunity, each match. And when I talk with the kids here in the spring, you can tell they are more confident with whom they are playing with and how they are playing. We have had a couple of wins this spring, which has been great. They seem to be enjoying it more and more every day.”

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.