QUARTZ HILL – Quartz Hill High School’s Esports gaming lab would be the envy of any gamer.
The room has 24 stations equipped with Lenovo Legion desktop computers with 24- to 34-inch (curved) monitors. Players sit in blue and black Respawn racing-style gaming chairs. They wear headphones with microphones so they can communicate with each other during games.
Blue lights line the windows and edges along the ceiling. The black carpet is decorated with swirls of orange, blue, yellow, red and green lines and confetti, like something that might have been in an ’80s arcade.
The school’s Rocket League varsity team members, seniors Reuben Estrada, Jacob Mosman, and junior Trent Elder, competed Wednesday in the spring CIF Championship against Cathedral High School from Los Angeles. The competition is a best of seven games. CIF will broadcast the top California matches for all three games, Rocket League, League of Legends and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate starting at approximately 4:30 p.m. today online at Twitch.tv/nasefedu
Rocket League is a sport-based video game that features gravity-defying cars that advance a ball down the field to score goals in the opponents’ net. The fast-paced game requires quick thinking and dexterity that would be more easily described as soccer with cars. Team members work together to score goals in the opponents’ net and protect their net.
“We all play on our own for the most part, and when a game is about to happen, we’ll warm up with each other for a little bit,” Mosman said. “For bigger leagues, it’s exciting to play up against better teams, but other than that, it’s not much different than just playing the game itself. Now we’re just putting a title on it.”
Like any sport, Esports players need to train.
“We play this game nonstop,” Mosman said. “We play this game learning all the ins and outs just the same way any sports player would. Of course, they have to condition themselves differently than we have to condition ourselves. Our conditioning is more of a mental thing than a physical thing, so we have to mentally prepare ourselves not to get upset, not to get angry. We have to stay calm and collected regardless of how the game is going.”
The Rocket League team, along with the school’s Splatoon 3 and Overwatch 2 teams, will move on the High School Esports League National Championships in Kansas City, Mo., at the Let’s Game Esports Arena.
Esports coach teacher Tim Fields and his wife Ana Fields, who coaches at Quartz Hill and SOAR high schools, are passionate about supporting and coaching the students, especially since many have not had the opportunity to compete in traditional sports.
“We believe that opportunity and access are at the forefront of high school Esports,” Tim Fields wrote in an email. “Many of our players have not played traditional sports; Esports are something that nearly all students can play; furthermore, it validates those who have invested the painstaking time and effort it requires to become elite in their particular games.”
He added, “Beyond the competitive side of gaming, our program focuses on promoting the same values of traditional sports: teamwork, leadership, commitment, self-management, and good sportsmanship.”
Antelope Valley Union High School District has begun implementing gaming programs across all high schools including the alternative campuses with the goal to embed Esports as a curricular offering — particularly through Career Technical Education programs — as there are numerous careers in the industry that can connect and prepare students for a 21st-century environment.
According to headphonesaddict.com, a top-tier Esports gamer, on average, makes $314,833 per year. An average Esports gamer earns an estimated $104,063 per year. A low-ranking Esports gamer makes around $40,032 per year.
Quartz Hill High’s teams mostly compete in national level Esports leagues such as HSEL, PlayVS and VHEL; with rapidly growing involvement in the Antelope Valley, Tim Fields anticipates building a schedule similar to the Golden League. Although Esports is not considered a sport, it is a competitive varsity activity sponsored by the CIF. The school’s program caught the attention of Chris Fahey from the CIF state office in Sacramento, who visited the school on Wednesday.
“Just heard good things about these guys, so I wanted to see it firsthand,” Fahey said. “They have quite a reputation of having a quality program, so I wanted to see it in person. And this lab is beautiful; I’ve been in probably two dozen and this is in top two or three if not the best.”
Quartz Hill High’s Esports program began in January 2021, competing in Rocket League and League of Legends. Nearly 100 students are involved, competing in 16 different games against hundreds of other high school teams across the state and country.
Player Ernesto Murrieta joined Esports because he loves to game and wanted to become as good as he could while playing them. He also wants to make some friends along the way as well as get some prizes. He plays Splatoon 3 and Hearthstone.
“I will soon along with my teammates get to play in the 2023 PlayVS cup for up to $8,000 in scholarships as the prize,” he said. “I enjoy the team-building aspects that being a part of a team brings as I work with others toward a common goal.”
Student Catherine Le, whose games include Minecraft, Valorant, Apex, Overwatch and Red Dead Redemption II, wanted to join Esports to be part of a community.
“As a freshman, I didn’t know many people and I thought this would be a great way to make friends, and it was,” she said.
Student Cameron Beggs joined Esports on the recommendation of a friend. He plays Splatoon 3 and Hearthstone.
“I didn’t have much experience with either game I play at the time, but with training and great help from other members, I now hold key positions on both teams,” he said.
“Esports functions much like any other sport, building team skills, relationships, and commitments that make my high school life more purposeful. Furthermore, taking what I already do to a competitive level means academics aren’t affected, and if anything they are improved as I become more organized and become more involved in school.”
My son is a "Gamer" after observing him and his cousins (gamers) for many years...you will find they stay up late, because at 2am most of America is asleep. Which allows gamers more bandwidth (think driving on the freeway at 2-4am in the morning, and you need to get to your destination really fast (it's called Latency)). Gaming is an addiction, with its pro's and con's... Con's my son had very few girlfriends growing up. I have watched him and his team "pack-up" on their opponents...group skills shall we say. They may live on their own...or Game in your basement...Forever (coin toss). My son met his wife on World of WarCraft...Young women realize if the want to meet young men...you better be a gamer. Its an endorphins thing. Pro's a school bus pulled out in front of my son, because of his ability to react to the situation, from playing Grand Theft Auto he was able to avoid having the top of his car sheared off (school buses are tall, it is easier to go under one).....So it was just an accident (the schools auto insurance paid us) and "not" the day my son died. Also chances are your child will respect another player by his "kill record" or "whatever" well when that person says (over his expensive headset with a microphone at 2am) "I gotta go to bed, I have to work tomorrow"...its plants a bug...and then when they meet people that are highly skilled, and those highly skilled people share advice...your child will grow..and maybe reach for even higher expectations...Many are basement bound...My son is a Berkeley Educated Network Engineer....I got lucky..I thought my son would be mowing my lawn for the rest of his life...Good Luck ;)
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