By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – School Committee Chair Sandy Fryc welcomed guests Steve McKinstry and Shrewsbury High School (SHS) students Jerry Du and Riley Crowell to the committee’s June 10 meeting. They were representing SHS esports teams the SHS Gatekeepers from the varsity of League of Legends and the CEOs from the varsity Rocket League.
The committee recognized both teams’ accomplishments in defending their “State Championship” titles at the spring 2020 MSAA Massachusetts High School Esports State Championship May 21 at Patriot Place in Foxborough.
Steve McKinstry, coach for both teams, gave a short presentation, noting that the Gatekeepers beat Natick High School and the CEOs beat Southwick Regional High School to win their respective titles.
“Esports is so up and coming, even just a few years ago really we didn’t know what it was,” he explained. “Esports stands for ‘electronic sports’ but it’s not just video games; it’s not sitting in a room isolated by yourself and plugging in with a controller and a headset and playing by yourself the entire time. It’s competitive gameplay, organized teamwork with some really strict set of rules.”
Seventy-two percent of American teens play video games regularly according to a recent survey shared by McKinstry. By establishing esports in high schools, students can do what they love and earn scholastic recognition.
He added that hundreds of colleges and universities are now offering tens of millions of dollars in esports scholarship.
“It’s really a good time to be a gamer and to capitalize on some of this,” he said.
Massachusetts was one of the first five states to offer esports in the fall of 2018 featuring the League of Legends; Rocket League was offered in the spring of 2019.
“Shrewsbury High has won every single state championship since, so we are holding all seven state championships in both games,” McKinstry shared.
Jerry Du, captain of the Gatekeepers, acknowledged his team comprised of Sajed Ziade, John Doyle, Trevor Dodson, Tristan Duerk and Raul Martins.
CEO Captain Riley Crowell also recognized his team members Lawrence Pemberton and Trevor Perduta.
School Committee member Lynsey Heffernan said that she was very excited about the teams’ success.
“I recently mentioned this to [my sixth-grader] and he said ‘what are you talking about? I can play video games as part of school somehow?’” she recalled.
She inquired if any young women participated in the sport and McKinstry replied that there had been young women on both teams in the past.