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Kidsburgh: Local high schools, colleges starting esports teams

Kidsburgh: Local high schools, colleges starting esports teams
Kidsburgh: Local high schools, colleges starting esports teams 03:04

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Esports is now over a billion-dollar business with professional teams competing in packed stadiums, and colleges and high schools are now making teams too.

About a dozen high schools around our region have competitive gaming teams. In today's Kidsburgh, I visited Baldwin High School, which just started a team this school year.

Think of it like soccer with cars. Rocket League is one of the most popular video games for young people, but instead of playing at home, these kids are playing at school for Baldwin High School's new varsity and JV esports teams.

"It's always really fun here," says Annan Gurung, a junior at Baldwin High School on the esports team. "I have something to do after school. I have friends here. We have a lot of fun."

Baldwin's Innovation director, Janeen Peretin, helped the district get a grant to purchase twelve computers at about $2,000 each, plus other equipment.

The school's gaming PCs are better than what most kids have at home. The faster speeds allow them to compete at higher levels, but it's the teamwork and camaraderie the kids like most.

"I like that I'm able to work on my communication skills and meet a lot of new people I wouldn't have crossed paths with if I hadn't made the team," says Ace Austria, a senior and the only female on Baldwin's esports team.

Annan adds, "Normally you would just play the game and meet people anonymously online, but in person, you can talk more freely with your teammates and stuff."

Peretin says of the program, "It's communication. It's strategy. It's working as a team player, and so many of those other aspects that we've come to love from traditional athletics you see in action here every moment they're playing."

Robert Morris University is one of almost 250 colleges with esports teams. RMU has 55 players competing across 13 titles, and the school provides about $20,000 dollars a year in scholarships for kids recruited to play on their competitive gaming team.

"It gives an opportunity for people who aren't as physical to get college offers and actually go somewhere for something that used to be considered a hobby," says Freshman Dylan Leonhardt.

The team's coach, Nathan Elias, says, "It offers an opportunity that maybe these kids don't have with traditional sports. They're not interested in it. It's another opportunity to build teamwork and competition."

Baldwin High School also believes this could help kids interested in working in the gaming industry in coding, marketing, graphic arts and so many other areas.

Eighth grader Ethan Green, who's also on the team, says, "I've always been thinking of being a video game developer."

Baldwin surveyed its high school students and 75 percent said they consider themselves gamers which contributed to the district starting the team. They held tryouts, and 16 kids in middle and high school made the JV and Varsity teams.

If you'd like to learn more about other ways technology can benefit young people, go to

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