Esports: A New Era of High School Sports on the Horizon

LODI -- Call them pioneers in a new age of sports teams… Not with a ball or a bat, rather, using a mouse and a keyboard.

Esports gaming is not just for the pros or college's anymore, high schools are putting actual together teams.

Tokay High School in Lodi is the first of just a handful of local schools to field an Esports team.

Would you believe they have both a varsity and JV squad and hold tryouts for the team?

Competitive gaming is now something high schoolers can actually earn a college scholarship with.

It's unlike any playing field you're used to seeing at the high school level.

No cheerleaders or chants of 'defense' from a roaring crowd.

“Nothing beats that, but you can have your parents watch from home and you know they are right behind you,” said Esports gamer, Allyis Martinez.

There is no diagraming of plays nor are there any sweaty athletes.

“You get to play video games. That's very different from the type of sports we have here,” said gamer Samantha Northutt. “They're all physical, and they're all very sweaty. Well, physically sweaty. This is like mentally sweaty.”

True gaming is a lot of mental work. But it's also takes a lot of teamwork.

Tokay High started it's Esports team last season.

Five players at a time, competing in a game called 'League of Legends' against an opponent.

“A lot of it is adaptiveness and decision-making. The game is 100 percent decision-making,” said Ethan Bradley.

Martinez said you need all five members because it’s “like a basketball team, if all five aren't in sync it just doesn't work.”

John Medina, Tokay’s Esports coach said, “the objective is to out-smart, out-play, and kill the other opponents so you can take over the base.”

That 'killing' part doesn't sound like any sport we know but the Esports team does teach students plenty about teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving and developing leadership skills.

“Hey, it's not just gaming, it's not just sports. We also are trying to offer our students an opportunity to earn scholarships,” Medina said.

If these students succeed here, they might have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level and have their education paid for.

“Colleges are looking, like everywhere. If you have that edge that nobody else has, they're picking you,” gamer Kevin Keith said.

And, for the moment, these Tokay students have a leg up on most of their competition.

The hope is to have Esports adopted into the CIF, the governing body for high school sports in the state of California.

If that happens, we will start to see a lot more high schools start fielding these Esports teams.

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