E-sports take center stage at Hoover High School with a new competitive video game facility

An already thriving esports team was recently upgraded at Hoover High School, not in a video game, but in real life.

The club has an all-new space on campus dedicated to competitive gaming, and it’s fully equipped with high-end computers, gaming chairs, headphones, and more.

“I would say the most popular game right now, at least in esports, is still Rocket League, Super Smash Bros, and Valorant,” said Henry Hoang, senior club captain and esports of Hoover High School.

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Hoover High Esports Club President Henry Hoang plays video games in their new facility on campus, Feb. 10, 2022.

He said the new room is a huge improvement over before and he is grateful for the upgrade.

“I remember I joined the esports club here at Hoover in my sophomore year. We kind of had a little underground dungeon. We usually played on the school computers. We never had the luxury of trying to build one,” Hoang said, smiling at his new state-of-the-art setup.

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Every sports team has a coach. For Hoover High’s Esports club, it’s Jack Wetzel, who also leads the robotics club and teaches math and computer science at the school. He has led the program since 2016.

“I think esports is any digital sport, from chess to these competitive first-person shooters,” Wetzel said. “But if I had to say what it’s like here at Hoover, it’s a community. It’s about students having a safe place where they can collaborate and be friends with like-minded people.

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Members of the Hoover High Esports Club play video games at their upgraded facility, Feb. 10, 2022.

Hoang said esports allowed him to escape the hardships of the real world while spending time with his friends, which has been more difficult since the pandemic.

“I really didn’t have anyone to talk to. So I was always playing games and having social interactions there,” he said.

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Hoover High is just one example of San Diego’s thriving esports scene.

San Diego State University is about to launch a new certificate program called Business of Esports, which is open to people of all ages. Newton Lee will be one of the teachers.

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A Hoover High School student plays a video game in the new Esports Club room on February 10, 2022.

He sees esports online with social media platforms, but said they offer competition for everyone and are more inclusive than traditional sports.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, or a child or an old man, an old woman, high IQ, low IQ, physically handicapped or physically strong: they can all play the same game,” Lee said. . “For me, it’s really amazing. You can’t see that in any physical sport.

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Wetzel said the new venue was just the dawn of the county’s esports push. His team has already held competitions with other schools in the area, and he plans to try to make esports a lettering sport for their district.

“High School Esports League is the national organization that helps bring everyone together. And there are those who actually host these games,” he said. “Colleges check these websites to see which teams are scoring high, which are doing well in their competitions. And on top of that, there are actually High School Esports League scholarships.

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Hoover High School student Anh Li sits in her new gaming chair and plays Valorant alongside her fellow Esports club members on February 10, 2022.

Anh Li is a junior at Hoover High and another member of the school’s esports club.

He has competed in high-profile esports tournaments and says there is a wide variety of games offered in the high school league, some of which offer a more affordable route to college or even professional leagues.

“I’m really passionate about video games, and just being able to have a job or a profession around it would be a great honor. For college, I’d say UCSD or SDSU are my top picks right now. said Li.

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Professor Lee said the future of esports is very bright. In fact, he sees the new SDSU esports program, and other similar educational offerings, as a gateway to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

“It makes them, especially high school students, more curious to know: ‘Wow, maybe I’m not going to be a professional gamer, but I can design new hardware.’ Or ‘I’m really good at art, I can do animation.’ So that’s something they wouldn’t have thought about if it wasn’t for esports,” he said. declared.

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Hoover High School junior Anh Li participates in her school’s Esports club inside their new facility, Feb. 10, 2022.

According to Lee, the esports industry could be moving towards more physically active games for competition. This means players would have to jump, crawl, or physically move while immersed in augmented or virtual reality.

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For now, Hoover High’s Anh Li is grateful for the opportunity he has in the present.

“I feel like esports is a passion…and a way to escape all other aspects of life, like school or personal issues,” Li said. to join esports.”

Professor Lee said one of the biggest challenges for the esports industry right now is the need to introduce more girls and women.

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Members of the Hoover High Esports Club play video games in their new facility on campus, Feb. 10, 2022.

He said this will be a difficult problem to overcome due to the number of online gamers creating a toxic environment for women in gambling circles; but there is hope.

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Efforts such as creating more collaborative and less violent video games are underway in an effort to attract more women into the competitive gaming community and close the gender gap in esports, opening the virtual door to all.