Though athletes are stuck at home, not all activities will be canceled for Española Valley High School students.
The Española School District hopes to start an esports program for high school students and create teams by the beginning of competition in later October.
High School Athletic Director Ira Harge gave a presentation along with TJ Morales from PlayVS about a possible partnership between the High School and the athletic department for a possible esports program.
“Esports is organized video game competition,” he told the Board.
PlayVS, based out of Los Angeles, is the host for the esports programs through the New Mexico Activities Association.
“As Ira mentioned, and it’s absolutely true, these students are playing these games at home anyway,” Morales told the board. “So, our thought is, ‘Why not create an opportunity for them to channel this passion into something productive, structured, and overseen by a mentor or coach from their school?’”
Morales said esports develops valuable skills in teamwork, communication and critical thinking. He said the skills developed from esports lead to jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and computer literacy.
He said PlayVS had over 1,000 schools and 13,000 players participating, and they hope to double those numbers this year. PlayVS will award college scholarships in addition to scholarships already offered by colleges.
In order to implement an esports program, Morales said they work with schools to make sure there is the proper space and equipment and a technology director to set up access and make sure games are not blocked by any fire walls.
The esports season has a fall and spring season, each with a preseason, regular season and postseason. New Mexico will have regional championships in the fall and state championships in the spring, Morales said, and the regional competition is similar to a junior varsity team.
He said all games offered can be played on any Windows computer.
New Mexico currently has high school competition in Rocket League, a soccer-like game with rocket-powered cars; League of Legends, a multi-player battle arena game; and Smite, another battle arena game. More games could be offered in the future.
Morales said in response to a question that Fortnite is offered through PlayVS, but is not offered through the New Mexico Activities Association yet. They are also finalizing agreements with other games including Madden NFL, NBA 2K and FIFA soccer, he said.
High School Principal Victoria Gonzales said she allocated about $54,000 for the start of the club.
Board Vice President Ruben Archuleta jokingly asked if there could be a retro team for Board Member Gilbert Serrano to play an Atari game.
Harge said in a phone interview Friday that he is hoping for Board approval of the program at the Oct. 15 Board meeting.
The deadline to register teams, he said, is Oct. 16 and fall competition begins Oct. 19.
Harge said esports players will compete from home while schools are closed, and they will do whatever possible to help with potential internet connection issues.