If playing video games comes under the UIL, complete with possible college scholarships and more competition, Kyle Berger will make sure his students at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD are ready for it.
Berger, the district’s chief technology officer, began an esports program at GCISD during the 2018-19 school year. It was his job as an educator to prepare students for careers in this field, he said.
“We need to find a way that we can prepare our students to take advantage of these opportunities,” Berger said.
Through a partnership with Dell, Berger was able to meet with Dell’s professional esports team, Team Liquid, and discuss how to create an esports program for high school students. Through this partnership, a district curriculum emerged.
The curriculum covers everything for the students from physical fitness to nutrition, Berger said. Athletes meet and practice before or after school.
Last year, GCISD launched its inaugural season of esports at Grapevine High School and Colleyville Heritage High School with a total of 75 athletes. That was after turning away about 150 students, Berger said.
“This has been the biggest thing I’ve underestimated in my career,” Berger said.
Should the sport of video games fall under UIL rules in the future, sponsored esports athletes would probably not be able to participate in district-level or UIL events, Berger said. However, most high school tournaments are starting to distribute winnings to the campus or school program if any financial awards are given.
GCISD’s esports program is expanding for the 2019-20 school year, Berger said. Students will be responsible for marketing and getting game film in addition to streaming. As of Sept. 3, 155 students had signed up this school year, Berger said.
While GCISD might be one of a select few districts in the area to offer an esports program, Berger said he expects more schools to develop similar programs in the future.
“If our neighbors—Carroll, Keller or anybody else—are playing all of that, too, then that in-person play is so much easier,” Berger said. “We can all get together ... and really expand opportunities for our kids.”
To find out more or to sign up for GCISD esports, visit www.gcisd/net/esports.