(Posted March 24, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The London eRaiders, London City Schools’ esports team, has cleared some notable levels since its founding in the fall of 2019. Among them is an invitation to COSI’s Big Science Celebration set for May 7 in Columbus.
Dillan Shumaker, the team’s advisor and the school district’s technology coordinator, and a few members of the team will man a booth at the celebration. Their job: To introduce festival goers to the world of competitive video-gaming.
“We will bring a computer and gaming equipment with us. We’re hoping to do a hands-on thing where we hand people a game controller or mouse so they can play a game while the students walk them through it,” Shumaker said.
The student gamers will share information about when, where and how they compete in esports. Shumaker will provide visiting school administrators with details about the financial and organizational sides of setting up an esports program.
Even as Shumaker and his team serve as ambassadors for the relatively new sport, Shumaker is still in awe of just how big a deal esports are.
“It’s been eye-opening these past couple of years, just seeing how many people are into it at a competitive level, even right here in London,” he said.
The eRaiders operate as both a club for casual play in the off-season and as a competitive team in-season. They compete in five different video games. In June 2021, they placed second in Rocket League at the state championship. This past fall, they made it to the regional finals in Fortnite and the state semi-finals in Rocket League. The 2022 spring season started March 7.
In both the fall and spring, the team competes several times per week. Early on each season, they play primarily online. When regional competition rolls around, they move to in-person play at Game Arena in Hilliard. The state finals take place at Akron University in June.
This past fall, a few coaches representing college esports programs attended the regionals in Hilliard to scope out the emerging talent.
“That was another eye-opener for me,” Shumaker said.
Senior Reid Gates, who excels in Rocket League, is London’s first student to earn an esports college scholarship. From among multiple offers, he chose Mount Vernon Nazarene University where he will play on the school’s Rocket League team, major in exercise science with an emphasis on athletic training, and possibly minor in youth ministry.
Gates won’t be the first London High School graduate to go on to play esports at the next level. At least one other has already experienced college competition. Will Stucke, Class of 2021, played for Wright State University last fall.
Approximately 50 students participated in London’s esports program in the fall. Approximately 40 are taking part this spring.
COSI’s Big Science Celebration is part of a four-day festival that promotes hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) experiences and STEM careers. For more about the festival, visit COSI Science Festival.