Bright Spot: New E-Sports team at a Hartford high school

A high school in Hartford has a new e-sports team.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:48 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, Conn. (WFSB) - A new program at a high school in Hartford is letting students get their ‘game on’ and proving to be a big success.

“Kids have been gaming for years,” says Sean Tomany, Principal of the University High School of Science and Engineering.

But not all kids are able to do it at school. “Students basically stay after school like they would for any other sport, and they can practice and play right here.”

In the fall, University High School of Science and Engineering entered the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) as the first team in Hartford Public Schools history to compete in competitive E-Sports.

“Because of the organic nature of E-Sports, we can practice whenever, wherever,” explained Andy Eaton, E-Sports advisor at the school.

He tells Channel 3 the CIAC works with a program called ‘Play VS.’

“Play VS sets us up with all these other schools, organizations, etc. and they set our schedule for the week. They set our games; they do the ranking system.”

And even though this team’s ‘playing field’ is the school computer lab, they still have to follow all the same protocols as any other sports player within the CIAC.

“They have to go through the Athletic Director. They have to be academically eligible to play.”

There are 37 members on the team, and 25 active players right now, but the interest is starting to peak this spring semester.

Dennis Obie, another E-Sports advisor agrees. “We’ve seen an increase in interest and from young people you might not expect to see interest from.”

The program has not only had a positive impact on the school, says Principal Tomany, but the students too.

“It’s drawing kids into competition that maybe don’t necessarily engage…”

Daniel Nanovsky, a sophomore on the team added that being part of the team has forced many of the members out of their comfort zone.

“It has definitely helped me making some new friends and have a good time while also bringing my competitiveness out.”

And while school leaders praise the improvement they’ve seen in grades and attendance, E-Sports has helped students like sophomore Valerie McGhee just by being part of a team.

“Overall, gaming has been a big part of my life, and to be able to participate in the teamwork side is pretty fun.”

Siddharth Krishlan, also a sophomore is thankful for the impact of the program. “It’s giving me skills to help me in the future.”