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The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

Rise of popularity of ESports in Colonia

Getting+ready+to+play%2C+the+ESports+team+gets+ready+to+play+Overwatch.+The+varsity+team+got+to+play+a+match+at+Old+Bridge+in+their+arena
Photo Credit: Andrew Tufts
Getting ready to play, the ESports team gets ready to play Overwatch. The varsity team got to play a match at Old Bridge in their arena

In November of 2023, Colonia High School held an interest meeting for the new and upcoming ESports team. Brian Finnegan and Andrew Tufts are the coaches for the team for the 2023-2024 year for both the winter and spring season. 

The Start of ESports

ESports dates back to the year 1958. The game “Tennis for Two” allowed for two people to play against each other. The game had an earlier version of the joystick. Two players would be able to play the game with this device, hitting a tennis ball back and forth. The game fostered the future of ESports. The year 1972 when the first home consoles became more popular and common in households. The console would be able to connect to a household television. The first nationwide Space Invaders competition took place in 1980. This competition fostered the future of video games and video game competitions. 

Colonia High School Starts Its Own Team

In November of 2023, Colonia High School’s team was open to anyone with any level of interest and experience. Brian Finnegan and Andrew Tufts welcomed everyone to the team. Both coaches explained how the team was new. There was no formal plan for the team yet. Members joined a Discord server. The server was the team’s way of communication. The coaches explained since there was no formal building to play any games, players will have to perform their matches at home. Students at the interest meeting seemed excited that Colonia High School allowed for an ESports team. The school is one of the many other high schools and colleges to have start an ESports team. Kean University in New Jersey” plans to open a new 2,612 square-foot esports arena” in the fall of 2024.

The Gists

Finnigan and Tufts asked everyone that wanted to play specific games they wanted to play. Players would give their opinion and talk about their experiences with the game and their records in the game. The team would choose who they believed would be their best players for their game. Extra players to a certain game would be added to the junior varsity league. The league could play against other schools for less of a competitive feel. 

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Winter Season

The winter season for the ESports team consisted of chess and Overwatch. The matches were set up through the garden state ESports. The team matched against different schools in the state weekly. The team would join a call on Discord 30 minutes before the match started in order to warm up and determine our team composition. Each match consisted of a best of three in competitive game modes. Robert Dorsey, a varsity player for the Overwatch team, said that, “As a team we didn’t do very well this season. I felt that we really suffered due to the fact that no one on the team ever played Overwatch at a very high level. The fact that the team is so young meant that we didn’t really have any precedent for practice or team strategies. I felt that I and several others on the team did well individually. But Overwatch is a team game, so how everyone works together is what really matters.” 

Spring Season

The Spring season for the ESports team consisted of Valorant, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros. The team went against many different schools this season. One of their main competitors was Old Bridge. Brady Thompson, a sub for the game, claims that the Old Bridge team matched their level the best. Varsity players got to play against Old Bridge in their own arena. The team placed third overall at a tournament at Old Bridge. Thompson claims that, “For the first year it was a great performance.” 

Outside Views

The ESports team was new to Colonia High School in the school year 2023-2024. Jannah Abdelwahab says the team is viewed as, ¨Not popular, lame, frowned upon,¨ within the school. Abdelwahab claims that since they are just sitting down and not physically doing anything with their body, they don’t deserve to be considered a sport in any way. When asked if they should get a varsity letter for their efforts, Abdelwahab says, “It’s not fair because they literally have to put n0 physical effort and minimal mental effort into this “sport,” and it takes little skill.” As a junior varsity tennis player at the school, she claims that it is not on the same level as her sport. Junior varsity tennis player Chaitanya Krishna agrees with Abdelwahab on a few points. Krishna claims that the ESports team “Haven’t done anything to stand out yet, but they’re a new club.” Krishna disliked how the team should might considered a sport. She does wish the team the best in the future however. 

Overall Season 

Aidan Russell, one of the main players for Overwatch and Valorant, says the season was fun overall. ¨For both the Overwatch and Valorant seasons, we brought our best to every match. Everyone–not just the team captains–were involved in helping each member of both the JV and varsity teams improve. Every match served as a learning experience of what we did well and what we needed to improve upon. I’d go as far to say that playing either game casually is pretty difficult now because I got so used to my teams!” Russell claims that he met good people who enjoyed playing video games as much as he has. He says that the environment was welcoming, both with the team and at competitions. Dorsey says that, “I think that the team has good potential. There is a lot of passion going into the team and I believe it can grow into something special.” Dorsey too was glad he could find a safe environment to play his games in a competitive way.

Future of the Team

The team currently doesn’t have an arena or area within the school to meet up and play games at. The team is trying to build an  arena within the school over the next few years. Brady Thomson was a sub for the team. He says, ¨Don’t be afraid to reach out if you want to play any of the games, Mr. Finn and Mr. Tufts are really nice people who will help.”  Thompson had thoroughly enjoyed the season even with being a sub for some games. He was able to express his love of games with his friends through the team. Russell claims that “At the end of the day, this season was our first. Paraphrasing what Coach Tufts said, we didn’t really know what to expect or what we were getting ourselves into; but we surely had a good time doing it, we now know what to expect for next year, and all of us made some friends along the way.” Russell is excited for what the future of the team holds. He expects for the team to only grow from where it is now. Colonia High School welcomes the new team to their school community.

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About the Contributor
Jaden Espiritu
Jaden Espiritu, Reporter
Jaden Espiritu is a senior at Colonia High School. He is a Filipino American who is involved in many activities in his school physically and mentally. He is a part of the cross country and tennis team. Espiritu is also taking part in numerous AP classes and dual enrollment classes. Out of all the AP classes taken, Espiritu has found AP Biology and the dual enrollment course Anatomy and Physiology the most interesting. He plans on pursuing a pre-med track in college with a major in Bio. Other clubs he is a part of in his high school include Mini-THON where he has raised over $10,000 for pediatric cancer. Espiritu has also been in the school’s marching band for four years where he plays the alto sax. He plans to continue playing his instrument in his lifetime.  In his free time Espiritu loves to travel. Whether it is a small antique store or a historical museum in a different country or state, Espiritu loves the idea of exploring the world. To capture these moments, Espiritu also likes to take pictures anywhere he goes. Espiritu can’t help but capture the moment with his phone or camera. Other hobbies include playing video games and writing about current events. Espiritu is very excited to take journalism and to become a journalist. It fosters his creativity and allows him to advocate for change for the world while at the same time writing about topics he is passionate about. 

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