TEMPERANCE, Michigan (WTVG) – Bedford High School’s newest athletic action doesn’t take place on a court, a field, or a gym floor instead students battle in front of a screen.
“A lot of students who use video games as a hobby put as much time and effort in as any good football, basketball, or baseball player,” said Bedford High School Esports Head Coach Mitchell Lestrange.
Lestrange a math and computer science instructor is the school’s first-ever esports coach. Lestrange explains the video game competition consists of students playing a wide variety of games against other schools across the region and even the globe. Students will be able to participate and compete on the esports team by playing video game titles: “SMITE”, League of Legends, and Rocket League.
The state of Michigan recently created an official esports league, joining 18 other states across the country to do so. Bedford High School will be a part of the National Federation of High Schools participating in esports action. School staff explain the group will start out as a club team but hope to transition to varsity status in the future.
“I would say this is a long time coming,” said Lestrange. “Michigan has got a few programs, a few schools that have already have an esports program set up, and we are trying to jump on the bandwagon as soon as possible.”
Bedford officials are welcoming all “Kicking Mule” students to compete. The minds behind the team explain its inaugural season comes at just the perfect time.
“We can do this virtually, I mean no matter where we are at,” said Co-Coach Beth Taylor. “It’s just a good opportunity for all the kids.”
Teacher and former cheerleading coach Beth Taylor is trading her pom-poms for PC’s to help the team. Taylor and Coach Lestrange believe esports is a chance to reach and spotlight all students.
“It goes against the grain you know,” said Taylor. “Everyone is always like get away from the video games go outside and play, and you know we have to celebrate the kids who are still going ahead and they are playing video games and they are good at it.”
“The uniqueness of esports is being able to reach any type of student whether athletically inclined or not, they can play and participate and be as good as anybody,” said Lestrange. “That’s what makes it really unique and fun.”
Over 40 students have reached out to join Bedford High Schools’ virtual athletic group. Coach Lestrange is hoping to see other high schools across the region create teams of their own. The Bedford High School “Kicking Mules” esports team will begin their preseason in March.
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