Do schools need a football or baseball field to play competitive sports? What if you're a cyber school that doesn't have a field, but have 11,000+ students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
Well, when the world is going ever more digital, make your sports digital, too. So, at PA Cyber, its first sports team is in esports.
A cyber school becoming involved in esports makes a great deal of sense. Both rely on computers and Internet for their very existence, and both aim to bring students together from disparate regions.
The other reality is that cyber schools, despite their name, do in fact possess brick-and-mortar facilities. PA Cyber, the largest cyber school in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has physical locations throughout Pennsylvania. These centers offer resources and support for students and families in the form of family and student-centered activities and services, each designed to enrich, enhance, and extend the learning experience. In other words, these are perfect places to establish an esports presence.
Another thing PA Cyber soon realized was that among its own ranks were dedicated video gamers eager to rise to the challenge of starting a PA Cyber esports initiative.
So, with the enthusiastic support of PA Cyber CEO, Brian Hayden, the school’s Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, Joel Cilli, and its Systems Administrator/Developer, Mark Narad, the esports challenge was embraced by choosing their favorite video game: Rocket League.
The Warrendale, PA, location was chosen as PA Cyber’s first esports center. The decision was made to use Xbox One with GAEMS Vanguard monitor cases. All of which makes preparing the shared facility for esports quick and easy.
The choice of Rocket League also turned out to be a no-brainer. Popular among many of PA Cyber’s 11,000+ students, Rocket League is rated ESRB; underscoring that “E” stands for “Everyone.” Joel and Mark wanted to make sure PA Cyber’s first esport would be one students, parents, and entire families could enjoy without hesitation.
With a school as large as PA Cyber, and with a truly statewide footprint, the immediate thrust was to work at creating internal PA Cyber Rocket Leagues. Joel and Mark acknowledge additional games may be added to PA Cyber’s esports profile, but the emphasis right now is making Rocket League successful.
Rocket League is currently an intramural sport at PA Cyber, but the school is eager to expand into regional and national competition in the not-too-distant future. All things considered, creating an internal PA Cyber Rocket League among its nine statewide locations is a good first step.
If all goes according to plan, it won't be too long before PA Cyber joins the High School Esports League and seeks out competition with more established K-12 institutions. With this important esports initiatives, PA Cyber has what many would have considered impossible before, namely, an actual sporting activity for its students.
(The photos are from the Warrendale, PA, location of PA Cyber)