Esports Thrives in Pennsylvania Schools, Building Skills and Community

EsportsStudents gather for an esports tournament viewing in lecture hall, with participants seated at computer stations. /Submitted Image

HARRISBURG, PAEsports, the world of competitive video gaming, is rapidly growing and making its mark in schools across Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Scholastic Esports League (PSEL), led by the Chester County Intermediate Unit, champions this movement. On May 28, PSEL celebrated its 2024 spring State Champions at Harrisburg University.

Esports has evolved from small tournaments into a multibillion-dollar global industry. It attracts millions of viewers and now fosters valuable skills in students. Schools like Downingtown Area School District (DASD) have been pivotal in this growth. Christopher Groff, a DASD teacher, highlighted the positive impact. “Esports in school teaches students that it is an activity where one can be positive, healthy, and respectful. It showcases soft skills like problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and teamwork.”

Students agree. Carter Novelenski, a DASD student, shared his experience. “I have learned to better my communication. Playing required us to coordinate and communicate effectively to win. This has really improved my communication skills.”

The finals day began with a career panel on professional esports opportunities. The championship matches then featured top Pennsylvania middle and high school teams vying for state titles. Owen J. Roberts High School competed in High School Rocket League, and Great Valley High School in High School Chess.

The following schools were crowned PSEL State Champions:

  • Middle School Rocket League: Southern Lehigh Middle School
  • High School Rocket League: Owen J. Roberts High School
  • High School Valorant: Lower Moreland High School
  • High School Chess: Great Valley High School
  • Middle School Chess: Pine Grove Area Middle School
  • Unified Rocket League: Pine Grove Area High School

Despite being less than five years old, these scholastic esports programs already show significant benefits. Students from public, private, charter, and cyber schools across Pennsylvania develop teamwork and perseverance.

Kaiye Obiri from Governor Mifflin School District noted, “Joining the esports team has given me more opportunities to interact with people, make new friends, and enjoy my high school experience.”

Kammas Kersch, director of PSEL and CCIU STEM coordinator, expressed enthusiasm about the future. “The diversity of schools represented shows the boundless potential of scholastic esports. PSEL has seen meteoric growth since our founding in 2020, and we’re excited to see these programs shape students for future success in collegiate esports and professional careers.”

Esports in Pennsylvania schools is not just a game; it’s an opportunity for students to build essential skills and create lasting connections. For more information on the Pennsylvania Scholastic Esports League, visit www.pselesports.org.

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