Juniors Khoa Dinh and William Huynh strategize with the rest of the varsity Valorent team in order to take down their opponent during competition (Lauren Hopper, TWHS Yearbook)
Juniors Khoa Dinh and William Huynh strategize with the rest of the varsity Valorent team in order to take down their opponent during competition

Lauren Hopper, TWHS Yearbook

Thomas Worthington ESports Team Cultivates Community

March 4, 2023

ESports is one of the fastest-growing industries and communities in the sports world right now. Last year, an eSports team was founded at Thomas Worthington High School by STEM teacher Will Thornton. Esports, which is organized competitive video gaming, has many games including Valorent, which primarily involve teams competing against each other in tournaments for a cash prize. ESports has been rapidly expanding in Ohio, with the TWHS eSports team growing at an equal rate.

“In five years, every school in the state will have a team,” says Thornton.

He also believes the sport will be underneath the general athletics category: funded and managed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), which represents almost all other high school sports.

“It’s a good opportunity to reach kids here at this school, you know,” Thornton said about his hope for a positive impact on the future of the team’s members.

According to Thornton, premier Ohio colleges such as The Ohio State University and Tiffin University now have eSports programs and facilities that could offer scholarships.

“Colleges run programs now and you can actually get a scholarship, like an athletic event, to attend the college,” Thornton continues.

Although Thornton is new to eSports, he has been learning the games and serving as a team facilitator. As a coach, Thornton says he does everything “that a coach of a regular sport would do.” He schedules matches, observes team dynamics, and works on communication and teamwork with the students. Thornton selects students for leadership roles, selecting captains who lead in more of the strategy and command of the team. The team offers a bright future and an enriching experience to high school gamers.

One of the Varsity captains for Valorant (one of several games they play), Will Huynh, has been a part of the eSports team since it was founded and has seen significant improvement within the program as a whole.

“Having more people show up was a challenge,” Huynh said of the growth in the program. “The Valorant team has grown to more than a dozen kids.”

The team has added more members, fostering interpersonal relationships among them. Members of the team have been getting together outside of school, playing video games as a group to further their skills, chemistry, and overall fun. They have built a welcoming environment for anyone new who is interested. This has cultivated new friendships as eSports member Tyler Bindle says he has met many new people he had not known before eSports.

“If you like to play video games, come out and try out– you’re always welcome, we have plenty of space,” Bindle said.

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