by Meadow Sandy, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — This is eSports’s fourth year in operation at Bio-Med Science Academy, and with the new season comes new advisers. Eric Salmen, the senior math teacher and eSports coach, and Alexis Bell, the Senior Apex Coordinator, advise eSports together.

Multiplayer video games that are played for spectators are categorized as eSports. Many high schools, including Bio-Med, offer eSports as a club to compete against other schools in their area.

Pictured above is a forum meeting that is held to ask students in eSports what they think the next step should be. Picture by Meadow Sandy, Staff Writer

“There is actually a competition. This isn’t just a playing around club. There are different leagues that we can also join, and depending on if we join specific leagues, there could be winnings and money involved that the school could get,” said Salmen.

Currently, eSports has about 55 members who meet Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Student numbers vary from week to week. Along with Salmen and Bell, four students help run the club: Seniors Tyler Williard, Aidan Veney, Emmett Bakos, and sophomore Lily Matthews.

“To make it easier, I’ll be here Wednesdays, [and] she’ll be here Thursdays, and we’re both here Fridays.” Salmen stated.

Tyler Williard acts as the community lead and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” team captain. As a community lead, Williard helps organize lessons, put together events, and keep students on track. Williard focuses on teaching students about the toxicity that may come with gaming, like throwing controllers, yelling at other players, and using rude and/or unacceptable language. Williard also teaches students how to properly handle the situation. As a team captain, he participates in competitions and specific gaming topics.

Pictured above is one of Williard’s lessons about toxicity in gaming and how students can deal with that toxicity, as well as control their own anger. Note: The iStock watermark is part of the original image provided by Williard. Photo provided by Tyler Williard.

“Due to my role as the ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ team captain, what I do will be different from what the other team captain may do with their team. For example, when we go over competitive game mechanics, I might focus on frame data and edge guarding, but the ‘Valorant’ captain may choose to look at team positioning and communication,” Williard said.

Captains might create their own lessons aside from the ones already provided to them based on what game they play and their techniques.

Aidan Veney is also a community lead. His job in eSports consists of overseeing club operations, designing activities, creating the rosters for each competitive and non-competitive team, and managing the organizational structure of the club. Veney created the current structure of the club last year and works to refine his design every season.

“I will say, a lot of the field-level operations are beyond my reach; the credit for that belongs to Lily [Matthews] and Emmett [Bakos], and all of our amazing team captains and team leads. There’s a surprising amount of work involved in running the club! I love doing it, and I’m super excited for the spring season,” Veney commented.

In the eSports club, there are two “teams”: competitive and non-competitive. Students are placed into different teams depending on the game they want to play. Currently, competitive students are playing “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” and “Valorant.” Non-competitive students also have the option to play “Valorant” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” but also have a wider range of games to pick from.

Students are sent a survey at the beginning of the season to pick games they’re interested in. Next season, a survey will be sent out again to see if students would like to play different games, such as “Overwatch 2.”

Schools participate in competitions through eSports Ohio, a nonprofit organization and league created by teachers for students.The organization’s goal is to create a world where eSports are embraced as a positive change. It groups teams by region and schools within regions compete against each other in various games.

Vali Epling, a 10th-grader and member of eSports commented, “I like eSports, though I feel like there’s not enough time for practice sometimes, but the people tend to be nice.”

The competitive team has weekly activities, as well as competitions against other schools. The “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” team competes Wednesdays, and the “Valorant” team competes Thursdays.

The non-competitive teams usually have weekly or bi-weekly activities. These teams work to achieve a goal in a game.

Pictured above are some of the games that students are able to choose from for eSports. This list gives students many options to choose from based on different interests and skill sets. Picture obtained from the eSports Ohio website.

Salmen explained how he came to be the adviser.

“Mr. [Aaron] Ettinger asked me if I wanted to help him co-coach the eSports team. I had to decline, since it was my first year at Bio-Med, and I had four different classes to teach. I told him that in my second year, I would help him,” he said.

Ettinger was the Integrated English Language Arts 8 instructor who also advised the eSports club in the 2021-2022 school year. He left Bio-Med in 2022, and Salmen took over the eSports club.

Williard concluded, “As both a community lead and team captain, I like to see this club and my teammates succeed in their goals. The idea of the eSports club is to develop and grow skills such as teamwork, communication, and sportsmanship while bringing everyone together through a common interest. While many people see us as just a gaming club, we want to build off of that and provide students with something they can take outside of school and apply in their daily lives. That’s the principle that I and the other community leads have been running under when we create lessons and interact with the students.” 

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