Since 2018, when the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) first officially recognized eSports, more than 8,600 high schools have started video-gaming teams. The virtual audience has reached 532 million people globally and high school competitors are earning significant college scholarships.
Last year, two Holy Family students Sam Treat and Enzo AlAhmar, launched Holy Family's eSports with great success, and it is far from “game over!” for one of Holy Family's newest offerings.
After participating in a Fortnite tournament hosted by another Holy Family student, Enzo and Sam were inspired to bring eSports to Holy Family. The development of a school program from
something so many students already enjoy seemed a natural fit. Sam says, “We’ve always played video games casually with friends; why wouldn’t we do it competitively through school?”
Before the start of their sophomore year, the duo decided to continue hosting more tournaments and as popularity for their tournaments grew, the idea to move forward with a full eSports program further developed.
Initially, they hosted Fortnite, Rocket League, and Minecraft tournaments and collected data about the most popular games. Since then, with the support of Activities Director Nick Tibesar, Holy Family eSports has continued to take off. So much so that in March, the former publication design classroom is undergoing renovation into an official eSports gaming arena.
Making It Official
With two years of experience behind them and team advisor Mr. Gary Kannel in place, the program is now an official eSports League competitor. The fall of 2022 was their inaugural season of competition against teams outside of Holy Family. Using the gaming data collected from their sophomore year, they created four teams based on the most popular games among the student body: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros, and Overwatch 2. Holy Family’s League now competes against various high schools across the central region of the United States in competitions organized and hosted by PlayVS.
Sam and Enzo acknowledge that video games have a reputation for being isolating, and the boys want that stereotype broken. The program has created a community for gamers at Holy Family. Enzo adds, “eSports is a TEAM effort; it's not gaming by yourself. I didn’t know until I started playing, but you must work with your team to find strategies. If you are trying to win by yourself, it won’t work. You need to communicate with each other and create a strategy as a team.”
Their team strategy is working. In their first official season, fall 2022, Holy Family eSports Mario Kart and Rocket League teams qualified for the central region playoffs. Only the top 32 teams out of 114 across the central United States qualify for playoffs. The newcomer Holy Family eSports Mario Kart team finished in a very respectable 11th place.
Sam and Enzo take great pride in the eSports team and look forward to continuing to expand the Holy Family eSports League. With the goal of creating a community for gamers, the boys invite all interested students to join them. Enzo reflects on their journey, “Our club is growing as the sport grows. It's pretty cool to know you've had a hand in starting something for your school that connects students who might otherwise not ever compete on the same team."
Matches are streamed live on the eSports YouTube channel (youtube.com/@hfchsesports). Follow @hfchsesports on Twitter and Instagram for updates and competition times.