Massac's Esports team highlighted at SIU's IT Day - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Massac's Esports team highlighted at SIU's IT Day

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WSIL -- Massac County High School students are sharing the opportunities that competitive video gaming is bringing to them. It's a part of Southern Illinois University's I.T. Day, where the Esports team held a presentation. 

One of the student to speak is Lucas Barger who plays Overwatch when he competes, "It's a lot of quick thinking. There's a lot of skills that really go into it." 

The sophomore is just one of 65 students to be a part of the school's Esports team that plays against other schools in the Illinois High School eSports Association (IHSEA) and PlayVS

Barger found out about the group a year ago when a friend took him to a meeting, but wishes he had known about it sooner. At that time, he recalls thinking, "Woah this is huge. This is something that I should be doing." 

Coach Brock Frazier says the team started with about a dozen students four years ago, and as it grows, it's becoming more diverse. "We've got baseball, football members. We've got band members. We've got scholar goal members," he explains. 

Frazier believes the group gives students with challenges an outlet, "Speech deficit, can't really speak well. Some Cerebral Pals, where he couldn't really go and run a hundred yards or play soccer. Now they're getting opportunities just like everyone else." 

It's also opening up higher education opportunities, there's at least $15 million in Esports scholarships and aid. Barger and his teammate, Chris Runion, are hoping to win a chunk of the money. 

"Right now my goal would probably be, just kind of seeing how far I can really go with it," says Runion, who competes playing League of Legends and StarCraft 2. 

However, the junior adds, either way he's learning life-long skills, "It can help you with like communication, leadership and strategic planning." 

As far as moving forward with the team, the coach hopes to secure funds to make a playing area, also known as an arena, for the students. But, right now, the team is relying on fundraisers and grant money. 

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