Playing video games is about to become a real-life high school sport
April 20, 2018 11:01 PM
Esports are coming to America’s high schools.
Yes, playing videogames for your school is about to become a sport.
The National Federation of State High School Associations and the NFHS Network have entered into a partnership with PlayVS to begin the rollout of esports competition in high schools throughout the nation.
The Esports leagues will begin this fall in at least 15 states. After regular-season competition between schools on the PlayVS online platform, state championship games will be played before a live audience and streamed on the NFHS Network.
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Why do this? More than 70 percent of US teens play videogames regularly and nearly 200 colleges in the US and Canada are offering scholarships for esports and actively recruiting esports players. Also, companies inside the esports industry are looking to hire those with experience in multiple aspects of gaming.
“As schools look to provide participation opportunities for high school students, esports is a great option on two fronts,” said Mark Koski, CEO of the NFHS Network. “First, esports may involve students who haven’t been involved in a sport or activity in the past. Second, the costs to implement esports are minimal compared to starting a traditional sport, which can be extensive with equipment and facilities.”
Catawba Bandys High football coach Trent Lowman has resigned after five seasons. A former college assistant at Lenoir-Rhyne, Lowman was 23-35 as the Bandys head coach.
▪ Shelby Crest star Lannden Zanders has committed to Clemson. Zanders, a junior safety, got an offer from the Tigers in February. The three-star recruit visited campus three times in four weeks. He also visited Tennessee and had offers from App State, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Maryland, Vanderbilt and SMU.
He had 47 tackles and four interceptions on defense last season, plus more than 300 total yards on offense.
Jeremy Speicher is the new girls tennis coach at Lake Norman Charter. Speicher is the owner of Charlotte Racquet Club North, the Lake Norman Charter home tennis facility in nearby north Charlotte. He is a USPTA and USTA High Performance certified tennis professional and has been coaching for 15 years.
Prior to owning the club, Jeremy managed two large tennis facilities in Philadelphia while serving as the head men’s and women’s tennis coach at NCAA Division III Albright College for four years.
He is a graduate of Albright College with a degree in Business Administration. Jeremy resides in Concord with his wife Courtney and four children; Taylor, Brayden, Mason, and Brooklyn.
Providence Day signees
Providence Day had four student-athletes sign national letter of intents Monday:
Jay Edwards boys spring athletes of the week
Metrolina Christian Track Team: The Metrolina Christian boys’ and girls’ track team doesn’t have a track to practice or compete on, on their campus.
Instead, Coach Brett Honeycutt and the Warriors practice in the school’s parking lot, where they have make shift high jump, long jump, discus and shot put areas as well as lanes drawn for the 100-meter dash and exchange zones for relays.
But not having a track hasn’t slowed down the program, which is the most popular sport at the school with 150 athletes in the middle and high school program.
The Warriors’ track program started nine years ago with just 35 athletes.
“We don’t talk about what we don’t have, instead we talk about and focus what we do have to work with here,” said Honeycutt, who noted the school and administration has been very supportive and wants to build a track at the school soon. “…I am amazed every year at how much we have grown as a program. We had 35 athletes that first year (2010) and then 50 the second year.
“From the seventh to eighth year of the program is when we made a huge jump from 100 kids to 130 kids. Now, we have 150 kids. I don’t know exactly why track has gotten so popular, but we have a lot of good coaches and the beauty of track is that so many different types of athletes can compete in different events.”
The Metrolina Christian coaching staff has been a big key to their success as they have 10 coaches in the middle and high school programs, including six who were college track athletes like Honeycutt, who ran at Liberty University.
But the Warriors’ athletes and teams have also had a lot of success, as the Metrolina Christian boys’ have won four straight, Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC) titles, while the girls have won two straight league crowns.
Both Metrolina Christian teams will try to continue their conference championship reigns May 7 at Gaston Christian.
The Warriors individual athletes have also had a lot of success as six different Metrolina Christian boys’ have won NCISAA state championships, with 10 more medaling (top 3) in the respective events.
Meanwhile, the Warriors’ girls’ track team has had five medalists in their short history.
The Metrolina Christian track team have also excelled in conference competition as the boys boast 47 MAC champions since the league started in 2012, while the girls have 35 MAC champions in the same span.
Honeycutt and company have accomplished all of us despite being the smallest school in the NCISAA 3A classification.
“I always tell our team that you have two arms, two legs, and put your pants on the same way the athletes on the other teams do,” Honeycutt said. “…If we can compete at the big invitational meets that we compete in (in the regular season) than we can compete for conference and state championships, too.”
The 2018 Metrolina Christian track team is looking to make its mark in the next month as they prepare for the MAC championships, May 7 at Gaston Christian and the NCISAA 3A state championships, May 18-19 at Campbell University.
The Metrolina Christian boys are led by seniors Tyrek Funderburk (University of Richmond football signee; long jump, triple jump, 100 and 200-meter dash), Noah Davis (discus, shot put) and Caleb Kirchhoff (1600, 3200-meter runs), who all hope to contend for conference and state titles.
Funderburk is the most recent NCISAA state champion for the Warriors as he won the 2016, triple jump state title.
Metrolina Christian sophomores Jed Wooten (high jump, 110 and 300-meter hurdles) and Lance Penegar (high jump, discus, shot put) could also be conference and state contenders.
Meanwhile, the Warriors girls are led by senior Caroline Walters (discus) and freshmen Austyn Koppe (100 and 300-meter hurdles) and Taylor Pogues (long jump, triple jump), who all look to championship contenders.
“I never want to give our kids false hope in anything we do,” Honeycutt said. “I try to focus on what we can accomplish and every year I start with telling them we have a chance to win a conference championship and we should do that. Being the smallest (NCISAA) 3A school is tough, but it all goes back to going out and competing. Our opponents are just like us, they work, we work, they practice, we practice. We just have to make sure we work hard, practice hard and believe in ourselves.”
DeMarkes Stradford, Charlotte Latin Track: The Charlotte Latin senior broke his own school and NCISAA state record, running a 10.62 to win the 100-meter dash at a Providence Day home meet April 11.
Stradford best his own record of 10.65 seconds that he ran to win the NCISAA 3A state championship in the same event last year, May 20.
Stradford also won the 200-meter dash (22.13) and helped the 4 X 100-meter relay team (with Carter Stockwell, Kambridge Tuttle and Taylor Henry) to victory at the Providence Day meet.
Stradford is a Harvard University football signee.
▪ Stradford’s Charlotte Latin girls’ track teammate, Sydney Scott, also had a big meet at Providence Day, winning the 100 and 200-meter dashes, while finishing second in the long jump, where she set a new personal and school record with 18-2.5 jump.
Trey Tujetsch, Ardrey Kell Baseball: The Ardrey Kell junior had another big week at the plate, going 7-for-11 with two home runs, two doubles and 11 RBI in three games.
Tujetsch, a University of South Carolina commit, started his week going 1-for-3 with a double in a 16-4 win over West Mecklenburg, April 10.
The next day, Tujetsch, exploded going 4-for-4 at the plate with two home runs, including a grand slam, adding eight RBI in the game.
He finished his week going 2-for-4 at the plate, while tossing a complete game on the mound with no earned runs against South Mecklenburg, but still took the loss (on the mound) in a 4-3 heartbreaker, April 13.
Tujetsch is hitting .383 with six doubles, two home runs and 19 RBI this season, while also going 3-1 on the mound with 39 strikeouts in 31 innings of work, while boasting a 0.45 earned-run average.
Ty Good, South Pointe (SC) Baseball: The South Pointe junior pitcher tossed a complete-game, two-hitter with 11 strikeouts to lead the Stallions (8-8, 6-1 in Region III, AAAA) to 5-2 victory at Richland Northeast, April 10.
The victory over Richland Northeast gave South Pointe sole possession of first-place in the region standings.
Matthew Donlon, Providence Day Lacrosse: The Providence Day junior scored the final two goals to give the Chargers 13-12 overtime victory over rival, Charlotte Country Day, April 10.
Donlon put Providence Day up 12-11 with 1:36 to play in regulation. But Charlotte Country Day tied the game at 12 with 58 seconds to play.
But Donlon had the final answer, scoring the game-winning goal 1:19 into overtime to give Providence the win.
Donlon had two more goals in the Chargers 20-2 win over Covenant Day, April 12.
Providence Day (10-3, 4-0 in the CISAA conference) has now won eight straight games.
Michael Sanders, Cannon School Golf: The Cannon School senior defended his individual title at the Tar Heel Youth Golf Association’s (TYGA) North Carolina High School Invitational at Treyburn Country Club in Durham, shooting a three-under par, 69, April 10.
Sanders, a Louisiana State University signee, also helped his Cannon School team to a runner-up finish, just two shots behind St. David’s School.
▪ Cannon School teammate, fellow senior, Michael Childress (University of Richmond signee), shot a 73, to earn first-team all-tournament honors with Sanders.
Alex Campbell, Charlotte Catholic Golf: The Charlotte Catholic sophomore shot a three-under-par 69 to earn individual medalist honors at the Monroe Boys’ High School Invitational at Monroe Country Club, April 12.
Campbell was also a part of a Charlotte Catholic team, made up of four sophomores and a freshman, that also won the team title at the same event, shooting a combined 296 (eight-over par).
▪ Fellow Charlotte Catholic sophomore, John Fahey, was the runner-up with an even par, 72.
Brantley Phillips, West Stanly Golf: The West Stanly junior enjoyed his first career hole-in-one, acing, 140-yard par-three, 9th-hole at Densons Creek Golf Course in Troy (NC) in Rocky River conference match, April 10.
Phillips shot a 39 in the match, and averages a 39.5 per nine holes this season.
Jay Edwards’ Girls’ Athletes of the Week
Katerina Peroulas, Providence Day Soccer: The Providence Day freshman had another big week, scoring six more goals as the Chargers beat Charlotte Catholic, Charlotte Country Day and Covenant Day.
Peroulas started her week with two goals in a 7-0 win over Charlotte Country Day, April 10.
She came back two days later with two goals and two assists in a 7-1 victory over Covenant Day.
But Peroulas saved her best for the last game of the week, as she had two goals in Providence Day’s 4-0 over previously unbeaten, Charlotte Catholic (who was No. 2 in the nation, No. 1 in the state, according to maxpreps.com), April 13.
Peroulas has 14 goals and 10 assists for the Chargers (8-0-2, 3-0 in the CISAA conference) this season.
Kelsey Esquivel, Independence Soccer: The Independence senior scored the game-winning goal in back-to-back, critical Southwestern 4A conference games last week.
Esquivel netted the game-winning score with eight minutes left to give Independence a 3-2 win over East Mecklenburg, April 10.
Three days later, Esquivel scored the decisive goal with just three minutes left in the second overtime period, to give Independence (5-5, 4-3 in the SW4A) a 2-1 victory over Porter Ridge.
Esquivel has six goals and two assists this season.
Erin McRae, Mallard Creek Soccer: The Mallard Creek senior had two more hat tricks to lead the Mavericks (11-2-1, 6-2 in the I-Meck 4A conference) to win over conference foes, Mooresville and Vance, last week.
McRae had three goals in a 4-1 win over Mooresville, April 10.
McRae came back with three more scores in a 9-0 win at Vance, April 13.
McRae, who has 32 goals and seven assists this year, has seven games of three goals or more this season. She also owns the Mallard Creek, school record with 75 career goals and counting.
Aubrey Mowrey, York Soccer: The York junior forward eight goals in three games last week to give her 44 goals and 12 assists this season.
Mowrey, No. 4 in the state in goals, had three goals to lead the Cougars to a 7-0 win over Westwood April 10.
Three days later, she netted four goals in a 4-1 Region III, AAAA victory over South Pointe (SC).
Mowrey, who had 53 goals as a sophomore, has helped York (11-4 overall) to a perfect 8-0 record in Region III AAAA play this season. She has ten games of three goals or more this season.
Belle Hardwick, South Mecklenburg Lacrosse: The South Mecklenburg junior captain had a career-best 14 goals to lead the Sabres to a 15-10 victory over Providence, April 10.
Hardwick also had 16 draw controls in the same game.
The South Mecklenburg standout came back two days later and nine goals, one assist and five draw controls in an 11-10 win at Porter Ridge, capping a 26-goal week (in three games).
Hardwick has 59 goals, 10 assists and 72 draw controls for the Sabres (2-9, 1-4 in Conference 12 play) this season.
Olivia Hee, Providence Day Track: The Providence Day junior shattered her personal-best and had the state’s best long jump (19-4) this outdoor season to win the event at the Bojangles’ Classic (formerly Taco Bell Classic), April 14.
Hee jump was five inches better than any previous long jump she had in her Charger career and came against one of the area’s best fields this outdoor season, according to Providence Day track coach, Carol Lawrence.
Ariana Rivera, Providence Track: The Providence junior has won the 400-meter hurdles in back-to-back meets at the Beach Run Invitational in Myrtle Beach and the Bojangles Invitational at Spring Valley High in Columbia, SC.
Rivera won the 400-meter hurdles at the Beach Run Invitational, April 7, running a 1:03.98.
The Panthers’ hurdler then set a personal-best and ran the states’ No. 1 time this outdoor season (1:02.10) to win the 400-meter hurdles at the Bojangles’ Classic April 14.
Hannah Faulkenberry, Charlotte Christian Softball: The Charlotte Christian senior went 6-for-6 at the plate with four home runs and 10 RBI in three games last week.
Faulkenberry, a University of North Carolina signee, started her week with a bang going 3-for-3 with three home runs and six RBI in a 13-2 win at Charlotte Latin, April 10.
She also went 2-for-2 with a home run and a walk in the Knights’ 11- win over North Raleigh Christian, April 13.
Want to nominate an athlete?
Athletes of the week highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through April 15. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at [email protected]. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.
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