WSU Global Campus hosts high school esports tournament

A screenshot from the video game Rocket League.
A screenshot from the video game Rocket League.

Six high school teams entered but only one emerged victorious in a recent esports tournament hosted by Washington State University Global Campus to determine the Rocket League State Champion for 2023–24.

The Feb. 24 tournament had students competing against each other in the video game “Rocket League.” The event was held in partnership with the Washington State Scholastic Esports Association (WSSEA).

“Working with WSSEA has been such a fulfilling experience,” said James Hoplin, Global Campus esports coordinator and coach of the Global Campus official esports team. “This was a dream for me when I was in high school, and to see it come to fruition and to contribute to it has been amazing.”

Kennedy Catholic High School (Burien) emerged as the tournament winner, securing their second consecutive state championship. Other participating schools included Lincoln High School (Tacoma), Lincoln High School (Walla Walla), Mountlake Terrace High School, Seattle Preparatory School, Silas High School (Tacoma), and Wapato High School.

The action was livestreamed on WSU Global Campus’ esports channel on Twitch with live commentary provided by students from the Global Campus official esports team. Colin Bale, a WSU Pullman student, founded the Kennedy Catholic esports team when he was in high school there, and his brother is now a current member of the Kennedy Catholic team. Bale joined the commentary to provide special insights into his brother’s matches, adding a personal touch to the event.

“Casting for the WSSEA Rocket League Grand Finals was a blast,” said Bale, “and broadcasting my brother’s matches is something I will never forget.”

WSSEA, a non-profit organization founded by teachers and administrators of participating high schools, aims to provide fair and equal competitions for high schools across the state while stoking interest in esports at both a high school and collegiate level.

“Working with the WSU esports program for our Rocket League playoff tournament was a great experience for us at WSSEA,” said Trevor Wood, a coach of the Lake Stevens High School esports team and member of WSSEA’s board of directors. “James and his crew of talented esports students put on an incredible show that looked sharp, sounded professional, and ran smoothly.”

According to Hoplin, the partnership with WSSEA not only contributes to WSU Global Campus’ mission but also supports outreach to high school students, fostering interest in collegiate esports and higher education in general.

Esports, also known as competitive video gaming, allows students to compete remotely in a wide variety of online video games and gaming platforms. The activity has become increasingly popular in collegiate circles, with many major universities offering valuable scholarships for students to be a part of their competitive esports teams.

The WSU Global Campus Esports Team, founded in 2022, is the first esports team in the state of Washington created to represent a fully online university campus. The team is affiliated with the Electronic Gaming Federation, one of the country’s largest collegiate esports organizations. Students on the team receive $2,500 scholarships for their participation.

“WSU Global Campus is thrilled to be working with high school esports teams throughout Washington,” said Dave Cillay, WSU Global Campus chancellor. “I’m very excited to see this partnership, and the Global Campus esports program, grow and thrive as we look to the future.”

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