The Game-Changing Journey: Leveling Up Esports at Westfall High School

Read about the successes of Westfall High School's esports program and the impact it has had on its students.

The Game-Changing Journey: Leveling Up Esports at Westfall High School

TL;DR: Matt Greenlee from Westfall High School shares the successful development of their esports program, emphasizing its positive effects on students' academic performance, social skills, and self-confidence. Despite its challenges, the program's impact on personal growth and potential career paths in esports is significant, highlighting the untapped potential of integrating esports into educational environments.

The Beginning of a New Chapter in High School Esports

Matt Greenlee is one of the driving forces behind Westfall High School's growing esports initiative. Situated in town of Williamsport, Ohio, Westfall is breaking new ground by integrating esports into its extracurricular landscape. Matt, an avid gamer throughout his school and college years, recognized the immense potential esports held for students, especially in a rural district where access to technology might be limited. "A lot of kids might not have Internet access or the access to these games outside of the school, so it really gives them that look into esports." Matt shared, highlighting the dual benefit of fun and future prospects that esports offers to students​​.

Building from the Ground Up: The Esports Initiative

Starting an esports program from scratch is no small feat, and Matt acknowledges the crucial support they received from their technology director and the broader esports community in Ohio was instrumental in getting Westfall's esports program off the ground. With guidance from Esports Ohio, Westfall High School tailored their program to fit the needs and interests of their students, offering a range of games from Chess to Fortnite, and adapting and evolving with each season based on student participation and enthusiasm to include games such as Valorant and Overwatch​​.

More Than Just Games: The Impact on Students

What truly stands out in Westfall's esports journey is the transformative effect it has had on its participants. Matt notes the remarkable growth in students, particularly those who might not engage in traditional sports, finding a sense of community, achievement, and self-confidence through esports. "Just to see them grow as a person not just a student or an athlete, but to see them come out of their shell, talk with other people, meet new friends [is huge]." Matt reflects on the personal growth he has witnessed​​.

The Academic Connection: Beyond the Keyboard

Interestingly, the esports program at Westfall High School has had a positive impact on the academic performance and attendance of its players. The structure and requirements of participating in the team have instilled a sense of responsibility and motivation in students, driving them to maintain good grades and stay engaged with their education. "So the beginning of this past spring season, we had a few students who are ineligible because of grades. But by the time the next report card came up, their grades were up." Matt remarked as he discussed how the student interest in esports is driving up their engagement in education.

He also said that this shift has been particularly noticeable among freshmen, who quickly learn to balance their extracurricular passions and academic commitments.

A Game Changer in Esports Coaching

At Westfall High School, the introduction of Game Lens into their esports program has been nothing short of revolutionary. Matt shared how the tool has transformed their approach to coaching and player development. "Before Game Lens, there was absolutely no remote coaching," Matt explained, highlighting the stark difference in their coaching capabilities before and after adopting this innovative tool. Game Lens offered a solution to a previously unaddressed challenge: providing effective, real-time coaching without disrupting the players. Matt recalls the days of interrupting players mid-game. "It was really just walking up and down a line of kids with their headphones on, and asking them to take them off so we could coach" he describes, emphasizing the intrusive and inefficient nature of this method. With Game Lens, coaches can offer guidance seamlessly, without breaking the players' concentration or flow.

A Leap Forward in Team Performance

Matt shares an inspiring story of his Fortnite team's progress, noting a significant leap in their regional rankings after integrating Game Lens into their training regimen. "After practicing and being able to walk students through scrimmages using different coaching techniques in Match, we actually jumped up to second in the region," Matt proudly states, underscoring the tool's effectiveness in enhancing strategic play and team coordination.

Facing Challenges and Looking Ahead

While the journey has been rewarding, it hasn't been without its challenges. Funding and resource allocation remain pivotal concerns, with Matt and his team working tirelessly to secure grants and support to sustain and expand the program. Yet, the future looks bright, with aspirations to grow the program, introduce more titles, and continue making a positive impact on students' lives, both in gaming and in their educational pursuits​​.

Embracing the Esports Revolution

Matt Greenlee's story at Westfall High School is a testament to the power of esports in enriching students' lives, offering new opportunities for engagement, and fostering skills that extend well beyond the digital battlefield. It's a call to action for schools everywhere to consider the potential of esports as a valuable addition to their extracurricular offerings, providing a unique avenue for students to learn, grow, and excel. Whether you're an educator, parent, or student, the esports landscape continues to evolve and it's clear that its influence in the educational sector is just beginning to unfold.

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