SOCORRO – For the second season of eSports as an NMAA-sanctioned sport, Socorro High School eSports head coach Jesse Griffith has his team training and competing in the League of Legends and Rocket League video games.
“I grew up playing video games all my life,” Griffith said. “I was always watching eSports and seeing how far it has grown, and I wanted students who were interested in it to be able to have an outlet in terms of enjoying themselves together and interact.”
Griffith received a master’s degree at the University of Texas in Dallas and is entering his third year teaching visual arts and digital media. He was a big fan of Heroes of the Storm, but he never competed.
Now sanctioned by the New Mexico Athletic Association through the PlayVS program, students are able to potentially receive academic letters that could lead to scholarship opportunities.
At least five players are required for each game. During its first season of sanctioned competition, the Sandia team competed in Rocket League and Counter-strike: Global Offensive.
All students are now required to do grade checks just like participants in any other sport.
Club president and junior Jazlywnn Montoya is entering her first year with the eSports league and was excited to get involved.
“I thought why not try something new which I also love myself. It has been a great way to get out of my shell, which I am so happy about,” she said. “For anybody that thinks this is nerdy, come be around us. We have so much fun playing, and it is such a positive place to be.”
Brian Peters, a senior soccer player, loves hitting the keyboard for a match of Rocket League whenever he can.
“It is hard for us going up against bigger schools such as West Mesa because they have thousands of potential players,” he said. “But our team works their tails off to compete every round. The chemistry our team has is a big deal.”
“eSports is selling out arenas, and it is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world,” Griffith said. “That is why we wanted to get kids involved because it opens so many opportunities for students.”