Esports added to Skyline School activities for students

Billie Blair
Pratt Tribune
Esports opportunities are coming to Skyline School students as soon as this summer, as approved by USD 438 Board of Education members at their March 2021 meeting.

A new sports team is scheduled to begin this summer at Skyline High School. Esports (also known as electronic sports) was approved by the USD 438 Board of Education at the March 8 meeting. New school board member, Mark Graber, said he believes this new sport will “teach responsibility, accountability and how to work as a team.” 

Board member Jerry DeWeese said he thought the sport sounded like a good program to involve more kids.

Esports is more than what is commonly referred to as “gaming.” Gaming is usually considered the practice of an individual playing video games for fun and good conversation, while esports involves multiple players on teams playing video games in an organized, competitive manner. There often are spectators at these games much as in other types of sporting events.

The idea of bringing esports to Skyline was introduced to the Skyline BOE in December 2020, by two interested and motivated students. Gage Egging, freshman, first heard about the sport through an ad on Tik Tok. He asked some of his school buddies if the idea of an esports team appealed to them. There was an immediate positive reaction. Kayen Cason, sophomore, joined Egging in creating a PowerPoint presentation to take before the Board. 

Superintendent Becca Flowers said she was impressed by the boys’ ability to take their interest to a different level by making a formal presentation to the Board. 

“The more students are involved and the more it contributes to their success in school, I’m all for it,” she said.

Cost for the program will be minimal. A coach will be hired to guide and direct the team. The students made several suggestions for raising the needed funds, including fundraising by the team members, each student paying an annual fee, and seeking grant money.

Pratt Community College has an esports team. Skyline High School is investigating the possibility of seeking help from the college to use their facilities for practice and tournaments.

Both Egging and Cason, as well as members of the school board, said they were drawn to the concept of esports at Skyline for two main reasons: the ability to involve students in team play who do not play in regular physical sports, and the opportunities available to earn college scholarship money. In the students’ presentation, they shared information about a recent competition that offered $30,000 in scholarship money.

Other reasons Egging and Cason mentioned for starting a team at Skyline included developing skills in strategic thinking and planning, learning how to manage success and failure, building social skills by involving more people, and creating time management skills. There is also the possibility of interesting students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers through playing esports.

Esports is a team experience that can involve individual and team play, much like a track team where there are individual runners and team running events. The hope is to get a team started to play by this summer.

Some of the games played by esports teams include Overwatch, Rainbow Six, and, Call of Duty.

In other business, board members:

* heard an update by. Flowers on the upcoming Legislative session, KSDE Audit, and KESA, as well as a report on the expected raise of energy costs this spring.

* reviewed principal reports from Diane House and Herb McPherson on their building activities.

* listened to an update by Flowers on the Skyline Schools Plan of Operation during Covid-19, and the status of the Safe Room Application.

* accepted the resignation of Morgan Ballard as the head high school girls basketball coach effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

* approved contracts with Lori Anschutz and Chris Sanders as MS Track Assistant Coaches and Mike Neifert as HS Track Assistant Coach all effective March 8, 2021

* amended a one-year contract with Herb McPherson tas Administrator beginning July 1, 2021.

* approved new carpet installation over spring break for the three mid-south classrooms and the elementary music room.

* heard information from Flowers on Summer School, ESSER Funds and a Facilities Committee report.

The next regular board meeting will be on Monday, April 12, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.