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Competitive gaming comes to Lakewood

9/9/19

 

 Esports meeting
Esports League club sponsor Thomas Penkethman, left, and club president Robert Zachem explain the basics of the club to a group of interested students. The number of potential students was larger than expected, a suprise to Penkethman and Zachem. "It's awesome; everyone should come out," Penkethman said.

 

BY JADE MARKS and HUNTER LOVEC
SNN Staff Writers

A passion for video games is displayed proudly by students at Lakewood. A number of  Mario Kart-themed backpacks can be spotted in the hallway, and it doesn’t take much searching to find someone playing on a computer or personal device during leisure time. For some, this passion combined by leadership skills inspires schoolwide goals and manifested in sophomore Robert Zachem, who is launching the Lakewood High School Esports League.

Zachem started the process of creating the club in the 2017-18 school year, when his friend senior Felix Skenderaj tried to start the same sort of club. This inspired Zachem to talk to assistant principal Andrew Oyer, and to start creating a club constitution, a vital component of the club creation process. It took him the majority of last school year.

On Monday, that culminated in an interest meeting, which filled the Center for Advanced Technologies auditorium during lunch.

The number of potential students was larger than expected, a suprise to club sponsor and math teacher Thomas Penkethman and Zachem.

"It's awesome; everyone should come out," Penkethman said.

While meetings will occur in the CAT auditorium every Monday, the actual playing of games will come from the internet capabilities of each individual student from their homes. To sign up and receive more information, send an email to penkethmant@pcsb.org with the subject “Esports”, along with your name and the game you plan to participate in. You will get access to the Discord server, where information will be given concerning club fees and other information. Supported games include Smash Ultimate, Rocket League, League of Legends and Fortnite.

 “I thought: 'You know, I’d like to compete against other schools … we could face our rivals in the online landscape,’” Zachem said.

When it comes to organization, a president for each video game will be chosen by the league, depending on the qualifications of the individual. They will be responsible for administering rules and managing club dues, which will vary in frequency and cost depending on the game one chooses to play. All of this will be done during the meetings and through the official Discord communication app.

Word got out about the new club to representatives from the county, who came to Monday's meeting. They are interested in the inclusion of video games in an educational setting and would like to see the expansion of the program to other schools.

 “You guys are the trailblazers, we’re interested in what you are doing. We believe that gaming can enhance the learning experience,” technology integration coordinator James Wilson said.

Toxicity or foul behavior will not be permitted during school-related gaming activities, and will result in action from the school and suspension from the league.

 “[If] you’re toxic in gaming ... if it gets serious enough, we can file a police report,” Oyer said.

Reception for the club seems to be positive, and the throngs of chattering students gathered before the meeting indicates that enthusiasm is abundant.

 “I am ready to game,” senior Mason Hockensmith said excitedly.