Rene Monteserin from Stay Plugged In had the opportunity to speak with the esports program coach at East Hartford High School, a public high school located in East Hartford, Connecticut. He learned what their program has to offer, so keep reading to learn about their program.
The Hornets Esports program started up last year and is coached by Greg Ziemak. Coach Ziemak also teaches Science at the school. The program is currently a club but expects to transition to an official sport by next year. The school has plans to build out an esports lab with eight PCs that the team will be able to compete on. The intent is for the lab to be used by students during the day for classes and for the esports athletes to train and compete after school.
There are currently approximately 50 students in the club with about 12 that play competitively in the HSEL league. The team competes in Rocket League, Super Smash Brothers, and Mario Kart, against both local area schools and schools throughout the Northeast Region.
The program got off the ground largely due to interest by one student, whose passion for video games pushed the school to add esports as a club. This student, who happened to be ranked top three in his senior class, spoke about how much of an impact being on an esports team had on him, in his speech to his graduating class. Having spent much of his first three years gaming on his own, he spoke of the friends he made and the sense of community that he felt having been a part of the program. This was something that many in the club could relate to, including coach Ziemak.
Ziemak has enjoyed seeing the students step up to really own the program. Many students serve as Student Leaders and Team Managers, helping coordinate with IT for equipment needs and tech support, and also help manage practice time schedules and activities. Being part of the team also means that kids are training during the week, watching past matches, and discussing strategy.
The Team has been competitive in Mario Kart in particular, having recently played well against Xavier High, and has had strong showings in Super Smash, where the team sits at #9 out of 176 schools, in the regional rankings.
Coach Ziemak has enjoyed leading this group of students and has seen first-hand what playing together has done to boost his students' overall confidence. He expects to see continued growth in the program, hoping to add League of Legends next season and is eagerly looking forward to having his team compete in their new lab next year.