Chimacum schools looking for esports coach

Posted 9/11/19

The Chimacum School District is looking to get in on the ground floor of what could be a new field of extracurricular competition by building an esports program.

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Chimacum schools looking for esports coach

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The Chimacum School District is looking to get in on the ground floor of what could be a new field of extracurricular competition by building an esports program.

Esports is competitive multiplayer video gaming.

In August, Peninsula College named a head coach for its new esports program, but the Chimacum School District was conducting discussions as early as this spring to hash out the details of what their own esports program might look like.

Superintendent Rick Thompson noted the idea of an esports program had met with approval from the Chimacum School Board and been the subject of a focus group May 29, before he issued a district-wide memorandum June 26 recommending that Chimacum should take steps to offer esports as early as this fall.

“From that conversation, I drew a conclusion that the potential benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks,” Thompson stated in the memo. “A student survey indicated considerable interest.”

The Chimacum School District subsequently posted a job announcement for an esports club coach on its web site Aug. 13, to work with grades 9-12 during the 2019-20 school year.

Thompson sees e-sports starting as an associated student body (ASB) club at the Chimacum Junior/Senior High School, which would invite high schoolers first, before adding grades 7-8 if room allows.

During the May 29 focus group, esports was characterized as affording a degree of accessibility that’s often not possible in regular sports, without competing with any existing programs.

Although estimates place the esports program’s costs at roughly $1,500 per machine, Thompson pointed out the technology could be used for other purposes as well.

On the flip side, Thompson recommended the esports program carry a participation fee, similar to other sports programs, even as he advocated that students who cannot afford those fees should qualify for reduced fees.

“The team will need an advisor, whose pay will be part of the (Chimacum Education Association) contract,” Thompson stated in the memo. “The team cannot proceed without an advisor.”

Because esports is so new to the Olympic Peninsula, Thompson explained the Chimacum School District would lean heavily on whomever is hired as the esports club coach to help define the parameters of the emerging program itself.

“It’s not considered a sport by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, but there might be regional leagues in Seattle,” said Thompson, which acknowledged that participation in remote leagues would require transportation. “On the plus side, it wouldn’t require us to build a stadium, and we could probably use the student center as a gaming room.”

In addition to offering an alternative outlet for competitive impulses, Thompson touted esports as fostering socialization and camaraderie among team members, as well as hands-on applications of STEM skills.

“When you see esports competitions on ESPN, and hear Army recruiters talk about how gamers have the types of technical aptitude they’re looking for, it demonstrates the value we could derive from being early adopters of this sort of program,” Thompson said.

Further information about the esports club coach job listing can be found online at chimacum.tedk12.com/hire/ViewJob.aspx?JobID=2198.

As for Peninsula College, its hiring of Sarah-Charles Morrow as head coach of its new esports program places it among 125 of the 5,300 colleges and universities that now treat competitive video game play as a sport.

Morrow is a Peninsula College Running Start alumna who has competed in regional and national Super Smash Brothers Melee competitions, and has organized numerous tournaments over the past decade, in addition to obtaining a Master of Arts degree in performance psychology from National University, focusing on mental skills training in esports.

Peninsula College plans to make $12,000 in athletic scholarships available to students on the team during its inaugural season.

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