Electronic Sports, or esports, have become popular in schools across the U.S. According to the National Federation of State High School Association, esports is a mixture of games students play competitively. Like other school team-based sports, students use strategy in a team-structure in videogame-based competitions.
Esports’ popularity has attracted so much attention that colleges have started offering scholarships to students who show exceptional talent. Hamilton Southeastern High School teacher Keaton Squires has been leading a gaming club at the school since 2016.
“It was just for fun,” Squires said. “But I noticed that gaming was kind of a bigger deal than I realized. I guess on a competitive circuit, this kind of blew my mind.”
Squires was inspired to launch a club at HSE after learning of similar clubs at Carmel and Noblesville high schools. The HSE club has evolved into competing against other schools and has enjoyed much success.
“We had some kids test out some things in the spring of 2021,” Squires said. “Our first official season was in fall of 2021.”
By the spring of 2022, HSE competed in the esports state championship against Carmel. Keaton said the program has benefited students academically and socially. For example, HSE junior Nguyen Tat has been contacted by Anna Maria College about the possibility of receiving a full-ride scholarship.
Tat has been involved with the school’s esports club since 2022.
“The moment I joined, I met a lot of really nice people,” Tat said. “Without esports, I wouldn’t have these many friends, and my confidence wouldn’t be as high.”
Keaton wants to continue growing the esports program because it is a unique and diverse way for students to succeed academically and socially. Since the beginning of the program, he has been talking to Sal Surra, a web professional in Fishers who shares his interest in the program’s growth.
Surra has spent the past year putting together a practice center for esports players in Fishers. It will be called Yes! Gaming at 11447 Overlook Dr. in Fishers.
“(Keaton) was telling me about his program and how they were doing good their first year but needed a place to play,” Surra said.
On Feb 25, the Mudsock Tournament will be held at Yes! Gaming, where students from HSE and Fishers high schools will compete. Surra hopes to have the grand opening for Yes! Gaming on March 1.