Game on: New esports team allows for connectivity, competitiveness

U-High's new Esports Team will be of 80 teams competing in the Illinois High School Esports Association.


U-High’s new Esports Team will be of 80 teams competing in the Illinois High School Esports Association.

Caroline Hohner, Arts Co-Editor

While most U-High teams remain waiting out the pandemic to get back to playing, U-High’s new esports team is ready to take on a spring season unrestricted by the pandemic. 

The team, which held its inaugural meeting Jan. 14, will compete with the Illinois High School Esports Association and is open to any student, regardless of experience or interest in tournaments. 

Freshman Brandon Chang started the team hoping to create a space for students interested in online games and bring together those missing out on extracurriculars due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Right now people can’t really play their sports in person,” Brandon said. “So this would be a good option to have for people who still want to socialize, but can’t really do that right now.”

The team, one of 80 in the IHSEA, plans to compete in the association’s League of Legends and Fortnite tournaments this spring, which begin on Feb. 2 and 7, respectively. Members can also play other online games casually with the team, given that they are not shooter games. 

The 23 students who attended the team’s first meeting were mainly ninth graders and overwhelmingly male. 

 “I was happy with the turnout at our first meeting, especially since it’s the middle of the year and lots of people are already committed to several clubs,” Brandon said. “I think it shows that there is a real interest in Lab having an esports team. Everyone is welcome and I hope the team will continue to grow.”

P.E. teacher Scott Budeselich, who will be the team sponsor, expressed hopes for a wide range of students to join the team as it grows.

“[Gaming] crosses age limits, it crosses all kinds of boundaries. So I’m hopeful that this is not just going to be like a small niche of kids that are just that sort of game,” Mr. Budeselich said.

Mr. Budeselich anticipates seeing students socialize and build relationships, something he has missed out on during distance learning. 

“I think that the hardest thing for me as a teacher is only seeing my classes right now,” Mr. Budeselich said. “And I’ve been looking for other ways to like just jump in on other high school classes or to get kids together.”

The team will continue to meet each Thursday at noon, and practices for competitive members will occur outside of school hours.

“There’s no requirements to join,” Brandon said. “It’s just if you want to come play video games, it doesn’t matter if you want to be more competitive or casual: this is the club for you.”