OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – As high school basketball season winds down, and baseball and softball seasons prepare to start, an Owensboro school is starting a new team that plays on virtual fields.
It may look like a video game to you, but to Owensboro Innovation Academy students Sam Tucker and Christian Wilson, it’s also a sport.
“With football, you have to take the ball and get a touchdown with it. With hockey you have to take the puck and shoot a goal with it. You get goals, you get more points. In League of Legends, it’s the exact same thing,” Tucker says.
They’re two members of OIA’s new esports team formed a few weeks ago. They start competing on Rocket League, League of Legends and other games this week. At least 25 students signed up.
“I was like, ‘Man, I’ve been asking for this since Freshman year, Sophomore year,'” Tucker says.
The OIA team is one of the first in the region. It joins about 100 schools across Kentucky with an esports program. The KHSAA allowed schools to compete in eSports about two years ago.
“Compared to other sports, esports teams are the teams that need the most communication. If your team doesn’t work well together, you won’t win,” Wilson says.
Teacher Logan Walker used to coach basketball and golf. He says esports can help get more students involved in school activities, which can lead to a boost in their grades.
“There was a lot of students before they were involved, weren’t involved in really anything, so this sort of got them out of their shell. Meet new friends, meet new people. That’s kind of a benefit for our school because we are pulling from so many different places,” he says.
OIA won’t be eligible for state tournaments since students here are also enrolled in other schools. But these players hope the program grows.
“Hopefully, we can lay down that foundation for students who are coming in here, seeing what we can do,” says Wilson.
(This story was originally published on March 3, 2021)