QCHS kicks off Esports Club

Quakertown Community High School is adding one of the nation’s fastest-growing clubs to its wide array of activ­i­ties for stu­dents. The Esports Club was intro­duced to stu­dents on Feb. 1 and began com­pe­ti­tion on Feb. 17.

The goal of the club is to pro­vide stu­dents with a pos­i­tive social envi­ron­ment that includes qual­i­ty men­tors to help them expe­ri­ence and grow pos­i­tive skills that can be applied in their edu­ca­tion­al and per­son­al lives, said Sandi Frisch, a QCHS busi­ness teacher who will be a club advi­sor along with video pro­duc­tion teacher Lincoln Kaar and sci­ence teacher Andy Snyder.

“I’m excit­ed for the oppor­tu­ni­ties our stu­dents can gain through this,” said Mrs. Frisch, who led the pre­sen­ta­tion to 21 inter­est­ed stu­dents in the Quakertown Performing Arts Center. “This isn’t just about play­ing a game. There’s so much more to it, team­work, crit­i­cal think­ing. The skillset they’ll build is impor­tant to their future.”

Dr. Michael Zackon, QCSD’s Supervisor of Secondary Programs, agreed. “It’s an excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ty for stu­dents to not only have fun but to learn skills such as crit­i­cal think­ing, sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, problem-solving, analy­sis and reflec­tion that they will need for col­lege and suc­cess­ful careers.”

The Panthers will be part of the North American Scholastic Esports Federation. Like all school clubs, stu­dents must meet all eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ments, includ­ing a 2.0‑grade point aver­age, to par­tic­i­pate.  Since 2018, when the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) first rec­og­nized esports as an offi­cial sport, more than 8,600 high schools have start­ed video-gaming teams, accord­ing to the National Education Association. Last year, more than $16 mil­lion in esports schol­ar­ships were award­ed by U.S. col­leges, help­ing to fuel that explo­sive growth.

More than eight-in-10 teens (84 per­cent) say they have a game con­sole at home or have access to one, and 90 per­cent say they play video games on a com­put­er, game con­sole or cell­phone, accord­ing to a 2018 Pew Research Center study.

“I real­ly like the idea of hav­ing a com­pe­ti­tion in school of a game that near­ly every­body plays at home,” said Alyssa Markie, a senior. “I look for­ward to com­pet­ing against stu­dents from oth­er schools.”  Anthony Clark, a junior, said “This is some­thing you do for fun at home and to be part of a team will be real­ly cool.”

Quakertown isn’t the first local dis­trict to join an esports league. Central Bucks School District began com­pet­ing in esports a year ago. And col­leges are invest­ing in the pro­gram. Kutztown University spent $250,000 to build an Esports Arena on its cam­pus. It com­petes against oth­er uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try, includ­ing region­al teams from Penn State, Slippery Rock, Drexel, Arcadia, Edinboro, and Lafayette.