Third place national finish for Tuscaloosa Academy E-sports team
Tuscaloosa Academy’s electronic sports team finished third in a recent national tournament featuring high school e-sports teams.
Gary Cosby Jr., The Tuscaloosa News
About three years ago, some students at Tuscaloosa Academy approached Tammi Scheiring about the possibility of the school forming an esports team.
The school’s computer science teacher had little experience in video gaming beyond the occasional foray into “Words With Friends,” but she was game to try to serve as the team’s coach.
By the fall of 2019, Tuscaloosa Academy’s esports team was chosen to compete on a big stage in front of a crowd at DreamHack Atlanta, a gamer convention. By the fall of 2020, the Knights placed third in the nation in the High School Esports League.
“We were excited,” senior Camdyn Cobern said. “A lot of disappointment though. We lost in the semifinals then won the third-place match. So, kind of mixed feelings. We were sad that we couldn’t go farther but happy that we at least got third.”
Follow the team: Third place national finish for Tuscaloosa Academy E-sports team
Unlike the Alabama High School Athletic Association, the Alabama Independent School Association, of which Tuscaloosa Academy competes as a private school, does not recognize video gaming as a sport. Scheiring and the administration had to research where the school’s team could compete and discovered the HSEL.
“We found that it’s a growing industry,” Scheiring said. “It’s huge in some places.”
Depending on the game played, competition varies by day. There’s a fall and a spring season. The Knights currently rank among the top six this spring.
“For the most part, our biggest focus is Rainbow 6 Siege. It’s a competitive first-person shooter,” Cobern said. “There are a couple of people playing Madden, but esports in general is pretty much every game. We play over the internet. We play at our houses after school. There are a couple of different play times that we have.
“As far as the competition, I’d say for the most part, the tournament is pretty top heavy. You’ve got some pretty good teams and then some really bad teams.”
Team members meet at school to share strategies and review results but return to their homes to practice and compete. There are 20 team members, all of whom compete. Each has to provide their own gaming system, something that limits growth. Scheiring, who recently won 14 gaming chairs for their classroom, hopes someday the school can purchase systems so they can compete on campus and add more players.
“These guys are really good,” Scheiring said. “They take it very seriously. “People don’t realize the communication, the planning and the problem solving that go into esports. It’s amazing to watch and see how they communicate. We’ve been very welcoming, too. We have students who don’t play traditional sports. This is their thing. You don’t have to have any tryouts. Anybody who wants to be on the team can join.”