Esports team kicks off the year at Battle Ground High School

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The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has partnered with CSL Esports, the nation’s largest Esports league, to bring a program to Battle Ground High School.

With 10 students on the team, they are excited and determined to show the other Esports teams across the state what they’re made of.

The Battle Ground High School Esports program has existed since 2019, but this year the competition has gotten serious as the team started competing against other schools on Sept. 29.

“So we’ve had two weeks of matches so far, and our top team is 2-0, our middle team is 1-1, and our bottom team is 0-2,” Battle Ground High School teacher and Esports Coordinator Rob Pollock said. “With three teams, we have enough people to play. Since we don’t have enough computers for all the players on Mondays, our third team plays against other schools on Tuesdays.”

The teams are set in three versus three matches. Currently, the team plays “Rocket League,” which is a game by Epic Games where race cars are featured on an intergalactic soccer course. The cars are used to score goals with a giant soccer ball. Other games the team plays include Dota 2 and FIFA 22, although the latter fell out of favor with the team early on.

So far, the Battle Ground team has competed against Quincy, Mt. Tahoma, Oakville and Pasco. To win a match, the team must win three out of five games.

With CSL being in charge of running the league, demands were placed under a tight deadline for the Esports team to become official, but that didn’t deter Pollock or the boys.

“CSL told us ‘you got two weeks to put a team together, two weeks for all students to pass the eligibility,’” Pollock said. “I can’t blame the district though, because they did give the kids extra time to fulfill their eligibility requirements, like getting a physical. As a WIAA sport, getting a physical is part of their regulations, since the players are considered athletes.”

Pollock added those at the school have been “super supportive.” With all the hurdles the athletes and their families have had to endure, the team is now “all in” and are eager to compete. Aside from the physicals, students have to pay an $85 sports fee and a $35 ASB card fee, which gets the students into events for free. The team doesn’t have any travel fees, as they compete against other schools online from the comfort of the library in their school. Other schools, such as Rogers High School in Spokane, compete from home. It’s the one sport that only requires an internet connection and a game in order to play.

The money spent on the ASB card can go toward fundraisers for the school to hire ticket managers and referees, which would be helpful for the Esports team if they start playing with an audience in the auditorium that cheers them on. Complete with multiple projectors and the computers atop the stage, this is Pollock’s dream. Certain Rocket League players can be eligible for scholarships through their competition in the game.

The top team is led by Dylan Rossimiller, the de-facto captain of the group. He is 15 and is a sophomore at the school.

“I like it here, as I can play with my friends either here or at home,” Rossimiller said. “We wouldn’t be so far in the tournament without my team.”

Rossimiller became proficient in Rocket League once he started playing it with his friend last year, and has not looked back since. He also dabbles in soccer and basketball, but prefers to focus solely on one sport at a time.

Like any other sport, each member on the Esports team has a responsibility to uphold both inside and outside of the sport.

“I’m really excited about the team progressing their Rocket League talents, building the team, and just building their culture,” Pollock said. “Leadership is also important, like getting the captains to practice leadership roles. Of course I want them to know that I’m there to help them too. Even outside of Esports, how they’re acting outside of this and being a role model outside Esports practice reflects on the rest of the team. If they’re wearing their Esports jersey at Safeway, are they representing Battle Ground High School’s Esports team the way they’re supposed to? Those things are all very important.”

As of this week, Battle Ground’s team, the Tigers, will face off against the UCA Lions.

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