May 11, 2021 – The Youngstown East High School is proud to announce the addition of an esports program for the 2021/22 academic year. Much like traditional sports or other extracurricular activities, esports requires students to develop teamwork, communication, critical and strategic thinking skills to compete in online competitions under supervision by a coach.

“Esports has a place in education and provides opportunities for developing collaboration and creativity skills,” says Charles Stark of the Youngstown East. “We believe students will work hard academically to qualify for a spot on our team. It gives a traditionally underserved group of students a reason to come to school and prioritize their education.”

Video games are proven to play a vital role in teen friendships and allows students to come together over a common interest while providing access to a positive adult mentor. The National Center for Education Statistics has also found that there is a strong correlation between student engagement and achievement with extracurricular activities. In fact, creating a sense of community within a student body increases performance in math and reading assessments.

Esports is considered a low barrier to entry sport as equipment and travel expenses for athletes are minimal. This allows students from low-income families to equally compete for important college scholarship opportunities. Student athletes will benefit from custom gaming PCs, keyboards, and headsets purchased through a partnership with ByteSpeed LLC. Microsoft and ByteSpeed sponsored a NAECAD (National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors) membership and level one coach certification for Esports Program Developer, Charles Stark.

“Supporting esports in schools helps students to learn valuable lessons and life skills. We’ve heard from many students that esports has allowed them to find a community to call home” says Josh Knutson, Esports and VR Solutions Director at ByteSpeed LLC. “Esports athletes learn to think critically, communicate effectively, and interact with their peers in ways that will benefit them well beyond their high school and college careers.

Esports teams provide students a valuable gateway to top post-secondary institutions and career opportunities in a variety of fields. Today, over 200 colleges and universities offer nearly $15 million annually in scholarships for esports athletes. This translates to future career opportunities in esports-related fields including coaching, management, computer science, and more.