CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Charlotte High School students can now earn a varsity letter by playing video games. The athletic department has added Esports as an official sport.
“We’re excited to be able to offer this opportunity to so many students." said R.J. Guizzetti, the director of athletics and youth recreation at Charlotte Public Schools. "We have about 16 students right now in the fall season of Esports and we will have about 15 or 16 more in the spring we expect.”
Teacher Mike Baker, who is now the coach, started a video game club along with students in the 2017-2018 school year.
The club grew quickly and two years later they joined the Michigan High School Esports Federation and started competing against other schools.
They won third in the game Overwatch and fourth in Super Smash Bros Ultimate in the state tournament.
Now that it’s an official sport at the high school, Baker said he’s excited to grow as a team.
“I think it’s a great way to get kids involved that aren’t necessarily in a traditional academic or athletic path,” Baker said.
Colin Grey is a senior at Charlotte High School and a member of the Esports team. He said they started their new season last week.
“The league is looking interesting this year. So it's going to hopefully be a good year for all the schools year around and for our school particular. because I know we have a very good team from what I believe in.”
Grey said playing video games is an escape.
“You can play like switch games or anything like on a computer and you can just like completely zone away from anything that’s happening outside of the real world and just have fun,” he said.
Practice is held twice a week after school and students have to try out for the team. This fall students are competing in the vehicular soccer game Rocket League and the first-person shooter game Valorant.
“Both of them are team games the require people to work together as a team to complete a task," Baker said. "And so those are two of the sports we’re doing. We really like to emphasize team sport as opposed to individuality games.”
Baker said they have colleges calling asking if they have seniors who would like to go to school to play video games.
“Last year we actually signed our first student. Actually went to college and got a scholarship for playing the game Overwatch and he went to Albion University, they gave him a scholarship to play this game.”
Several Michigan colleges and universities have varsity Esports teams, including Michigan Tech, Alma College and Siena Heights University.