Esports of New Diana Club in high school playoffs
New Diana, Texas (KLTV) - Cooper Holland and his teammates at New Diana High School are in the playoffs, but not on a field-- behind a screen.
Holland is a senior at New Diana and the founder and captain of the Esports of New Diana Club. Holland started the club in the spring, and just a semester later, they are already in the semi-finals of the High School Esports League Fall Majors Tournament.
“Esports is an organization or a term meant to describe an organization that were built to add a competitive aspect or ranked system to video games," explained New Diana High School teacher and sponsor of the esports club, Brad Tennimon.
With the growing popularity of video games, players have found ways to compete with other players and even build careers out of gaming. For high schools students, though, gaming has a different draw. Colleges recruit for their own gaming teams and even offer scholarships. In fact, each player on the winning team in the High School Esports League Fall Majors Tournament will receive a $1,000 scholarship, according to Tennimon.
Holland and his teammates have not taken preparation for the playoffs lightly.
“I tell [the team], there is no nervousness in preparation,” said Holland. "As long as you’re prepared, you shouldn’t be nervous.”
“They’re going out there and looking at game footage from other players and finding ways to beat it," said Tennimon.
Holland said they try to practice two hours a day, five days a week, and for some of the players, this isn’t the only club they are involved in. Holland and several of his teammates are also a part of the football team. In addition to balancing extracurriculars, the players are also expected to maintain a certain grade-point average to stay in the club.
“With us seniors being in so many AP classes and advanced classes, having piles of homework to do, but also trying to balance what we love at the same time- it can be very challenging,” said New Diana senior and team member, Blayne Olazabal.
“They’re brilliant kids,” said New Diana Principal, Mark Ferrer. Ferrer said he is proud of the spotlight the Esports of New Diana Club has put on the school and the students. Even more, he is glad to have yet another way for his students to get plugged in.
“It gives our kids on campus another avenue to get involved. On our campus, we don’t want kids just walking around. We want them involved and this gives them that other avenue,” he said. “I’m very proud of these kids.”
Ferrer said that the club has turned out to be one of the largest on campus, and it all started with Holland’s love for gaming. When he found out that he and his friends could compete in a high school league, he knew he had to make it happen.
“Me and all my teammates, we love playing the game, and we love playing it competitively," he said. "So when we saw this opportunity, we jumped on it.”
And now, it has come to mean much more than just playing a game. “I love these guys, and I love this team," said Holland. "It’s been a great year, and I can’t wait to see how it ends.”
As for Tennimon, he thinks the tournament will end well.
“It’s gonna be hard," he said. "but I think they can do it.”
The Esports of New Diana Club will play their semi-final game this Saturday afternoon.
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