[Jack Demmler | WOUB]

High School esports levels up as OHSAA announces its support for annual tournament

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JACKSON, Ohio (WOUB) —  Esports is leveling up for high school teams across the state thanks to a new partnership with the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

OHSAA announced last month it will support and promote Esport Ohio’s annual state tournament.

Esports Ohio is a nonprofit organization created by teachers in the spring of 2019 who wanted to provide students the opportunity to join a school team and embrace electronic sports as educational and developmental.

Esports Ohio is a nonprofit organization created by teachers for students to participate in esports. [Esports Ohio]
The organization unites 250 esports teams across the state. Jackson High School joined during its first season.

“Them being a free league that’s just committed to getting kids to play and be competitive and get some scholarship opportunities stuck with them,” administrator Erick Siders said.

Jackson High School has had a team since 2018 after students, including team coach John Notter, expressed interest in playing video games competitively.

“Having esports is a good way to have mental competition,” Notter said. “I thought it was a great thing to have here.”

The Jackson team has about 50 kids across four games, including senior and team captain Dillon Oiler.

Through his four years with the team, Oiler has enjoyed building friendships, meeting new people and challenging himself mentally.

He said the OHSAA announcement brings excitement to the future of esports in the state.

Jackson High School has four different esports leagues such as Super Smash Bros Ultimate. [Jack Demmler | WOUB]
“It means that schools that would never consider an esports program may now start considering them,” Oiler said. “That’s the kind of movement that will allow people who want to be a part of a team of some sorts but don’t want to join something that involves … the dedication on your body … they can focus more on their minds.”

Siders said the partnership goes a long way for the adults who will sign off on their kids joining in the esports world.

“It gives us some legitimacy,” Siders said. “That legitimacy with parents would be a good thing to have so parents know that this isn’t just their kids playing video games. There are constructive skills and benefits to playing esports in this competitive way.”

Siders said his hope is the OHSAA partnership puts esports on the same level as other recognized sports.

According to the OHSAA press release, it announced it provide trophies on par with trophies provided to other state champions receive

The state tournament will be held May 20-21 at the University of Akron.