by Gary Smith ’22
Organized eSports programs are popping up in high schools nationwide, including right here in Oklahoma City at Heritage Hall. Though new to the field this year, Charger teams hit the ground running and have already made an impressive mark on the season.
For those unfamiliar with the billion-dollar industry, eSports is organized video game competitions featuring both professional and amateur players, competing as individuals or on teams, in front of online and in-person audiences. With millions of people worldwide tuning in, it’s hardly surprising that eSports has expanded to include high school programs.
More than just a game, however, Heritage Hall’s eSports program is not housed under athletics. Like many other schools, participation in the league is considered an academic activity. “eSports helps students develop skills in professional teamwork, video game design, computer science/engineering, and other STEM-related areas. Additionally, eSports opens up lucrative scholarship opportunities for students,” explained program director Ami Steelman.
According to junior Sam Hall, eSports student president, “Since the beginning of August, players have been practicing and competing hard and spending extra hours building and updating the esports room [aka gamer cave]. It’s been a lot of work, but in the end, it will pay off.”
Currently, Heritage Hall has 46 competitors making up 14 teams that compete in a range of video games from Valorant to Chess. Following eight weeks of competition, the teams have an impressive 53-46 record.
Additionally, the CS:GO Blue team, led by captain Ethan Steelman ’23, secured the highest national ranking of all Charger teams (12th out of 86 squads). Individually, Landon Green ’25 and Carson Kerr ’24 landed a spot in the Minecraft Survival games national playoffs; Kerr also in Chess. Will Porter ’25 and Porter Chappelle ’22 will compete in the FIFA 21 regional playoffs.
When asked about his experience in the program, senior Brian Blaik, Valorant Blue team captain, stated, “Win or lose, the sense of team belonging, eagerness to improve, and enthusiasm for the game is enough to keep me involved with the program.”
With what looks to be an exciting spring season ahead, Steelman noted, “It is important to not lose sight of eSports’s incredible value as another pathway for our students to showcase their talents to the community and to prepare for college admissions and innovative careers. We couldn’t be more excited to provide this new opportunity with the help of parent donations and the School’s Annual Fund.”
Follow @thehallesports on Instagram to stay updated on the team’s recent competitions and achievements.