In recent years, the sport of competitive video gaming known as Electronic Sports (Esports) has seen its popularity explode. Esports has burst onto the scene locally with the Palmyra-Macedon Central School District formalizing a team of its own in March 2019.
Esports pits individuals or teams against each other in competition through a video game instead of what is currently thought of as traditional in-person sporting competition. The team at Pal-Mac began as a trial with five members last school year to test the program and work through technical challenges. The “first-five” was formed by Director of Instructional Technology Chip Dolce and high school teacher Jeff Cheramie.
According to Dolce, the trial was a resounding success. Pal-Mac is on the cutting-edge of the Esports team trend as one of just a handful of districts in New York State to boast an official district sanctioned team, and following the booming launch, the team is expanding this fall welcoming interested students in grades 9-12. Team participants will be required to follow the Pal-Mac eligibility standards and rules for co-curricular activities.
The program will center around three core concepts: cognitive skill development, team building and technical skill development. Students will learn how to build a computer from the ground up, install and troubleshoot web-based applications and develop collaborative skills in an intense, fast-paced virtual environment.
To compete in Esports, a special gaming computer is required. The mighty powerful “gaming rigs” are traditional computers equipped with a more robust graphics card and memory, something that is required for the league the e-athletes will compete in. Pal-Mac currently has six such computers ready for competition.
“Getting an Esports program up and running is an extremely time-consuming and difficult task,” said Dolce. “Thankfully, we have a superintendent and Board of Education that recognize the value of these programs and the positive impact it has on our students.”
Not only is Esports a great hands-on learning experience for students, but it also opens up opportunities for college scholarships. Dolce said over 200 colleges and universities are currently giving out scholarships for Esports. A remarkable statistic when you consider the newness of the sport.
Pal-Mac will compete against teams from throughout the state and the region through PlayVS, an official league providing an online platform, integrations with game publishers and exclusive partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (a nationwide organization overseeing sports for schools throughout the county).
“I am fortunate to have been a part of getting our club started and look forward to watching it grow over the next few years and beyond,” added Dolce.
The 2019-20 team will be led by Cheramie and other Pal-Mac staff members.