CHIMACUM — Chimacum School District is starting an esports team, but before they can hold tryouts, they need a coach first.
The district is trying to join the growing movement of school-based esports teams, which are competitions using video games, that are quickly popping up throughout the nation.
The team/teams would initially be for their high school students and Superintendent Rick Thompson is unsure what games they would compete in yet, but he thinks “Fortnite” might be a contender.
“We have an acceptable use policy,” Thompson said. “So we wouldn’t want any games that promote violence or anything like that.”
“We’re interested in the competition, teamwork aspect of it.”
The district is looking at different games for the students to compete in, and Thompson said that the specific games will most likely be dependent on what the students want to play.
The coach the district seeks would be able to work with the students and staff on starting the new program and help guide the district on what computer setups they will need and how they would eventually compete against other schools across the nation.
The full job description, requirements for the Chimacum coaching position and how to apply can be found at tinyurl.com/Chimacumesports.
“It’s not a WIAA sport yet,” Thompson said. “I think it’s going to be more of a national approach. I think there’s some schools across the country but I can’t give a list of what high schools in Washington yet. I’m not sure who our competitors would be.
“Because it’s digital, it might be a real different kind of league than we’re used to.”
Starting an esports team in the district is a conversation the school district started more than one year ago. Students were given surveys and showed a lot of interest in the idea, officials said.
When designing the job description for the coach, school staff members examined similar positions across the country and Peninsula College’s esports program in particular. The college hired coach Charlie Morrow to spearhead its program in July.
Morrow has been working on the recruitment for Peninsula College’s teams. She has almost completed the college’s “Overwatch” team, and is working on teams for “League of Legends,” “Super Smash Bros.” and “Rocket League.”
To be on the collegiate team, a student is required to be there full-time in good academic standing, similar to what the regular athletes have to maintain.
Morrow said she plans to work with area schools that have esports teams/clubs for recruiting to the college level, and she said she is excited to hear Chimacum is starting one.
“That’s so awesome,” Morrow said.
Morrow also had advice for the potential coach for Chimacum.
“Find allies,” Morrow said. “Reach out to your inner circles in your academic community and outside the academic community.
“The people over at Peninsula College, the reception I’ve received has been nothing but positive and being able to collaborate with athletics, with the tech department, with the media department. … That’s been all so incredibly helpful,” she continued.
“It’s been this collaborative approach. If I didn’t have that resource, it would be a lot harder to implement what I want to implement.”
Video games scholarship and career opportunities have been rising, and Thompson sees esports as a way for students to get involved with the school when they are not participating — or cannot participate — in traditional sports.
One of the challenges that Chimacum and Peninsula College have to face, said Rick Ross, associate dean for Athletics and Student Programs at Peninsula College, is the firewalls that educational computers have that block online gaming.
Esports also allows for students to be able to participate remotely, which Peninsula College, which is based in Port Angeles with branches in other communities, is entertaining for those students who live in Port Townsend and Forks.
Remote students still would have to be physically present at one to two practices a month and be present on tournament days, Morrow said.
At this time, there are no other active esports teams or clubs on the Olympic Peninsula because Port Angeles High School discontinued its esports club this year, Morrow said.
But she said she hopes that with Peninsula College pursing it and now Chimacum, that the interest will grow.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].