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Deerfield

Deerfield High School eyes adding esports

On its website, www.wihsea.org, the association says esports build critical thinking and interpersonal skills and is especially a draw for students who might not join in athletics or other extracurricular activities

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A group of students and teachers say they’d like to bring competitive esports to Deerfield High School.

Physical education teacher Hunter Jensen, district technology coordinator Nathan Hruby, Athletic Director Matt Polzin and DHS sophomore Emmett Hruby shared their vision with the Deerfield School Board on Sept. 13.

It would involve forming junior varsity and varsity teams as part of the Wisconsin High School Eports Association. The WHSEA has nearly 50 participating schools spread across a variety of leagues and divisions, culminating in state championships each spring. The first state championships were in the spring of 2019.

On its website, www.wihsea.org, the association says esports build critical thinking and interpersonal skills and is especially a draw for students who might not join in athletics or other extracurricular activities.

Participating area high schools include Fort Atkinson, Marshall, McFarland, Janesville Craig, Johnson Creek, Jefferson and Edgewood.

The school board didn’t take any action, saying they’d like to continue the discussion at their next meeting on Sept. 20.

Emmett Hruby said the WHSEA Rocket League that Deerfield is considering joining is essentially an online soccer game with rocket-powered cars. Teams have three players, and games last about five minutes.

Team members could connect virtually from home to practice and then would gather at school to compete over the WHSEA’s discord channel, a monitored server “where all the communication between coaches and students happen,” Hruby said.

Jensen said he’s willing to coach Deerfield’s team, and said at least three students have already expressed an interest.

DHS Principal Brett Jacobson said the Rocket League is a good place to start; other leagues become more complicated.

“We’re just trying to dip our toe into the water,” Jacobson said.

Hruby said the school district would have to buy the computers that students would compete on, at cost of $1,200 to $1,500 each. Some students might bring their own controllers and headsets, but not everyone has those, and so that might be an additional cost, Hruby said.

Connecting into the WHSEA’s discord channel would be free, Hruby said.

Jacobson said before any purchases are made, an organizational meeting would have to be held to gauge the number of interested students. He also said there is grant money available to help teams get off the ground.

School board member Sarah Hart called it “a cool idea.”

“I think it’s awesome. I would guess you would have a lot of interest,” Hart said.

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