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  • Writer's pictureHigh School Esports League

Building a Legacy Vol. 3: Christian Brothers College High School

Updated: Apr 8

Author: David Stone, Commissioner of Competition


Two words that might best describe Coach DJ and the CBC Esports team: All. In. Joining the High School Esports League in Spring 2022, Christian Brothers College High School strived to set the bar for what an "all in" mindset through high school esports looks like. Per the school's website, CBC competes in a "1500-square-foot CBC Esports Center on our campus founded in 2019. The Center has 48 gaming PC stations...30 gaming consoles...[additionally] the CBC Esports Center has its own Charter Spectrum Enterprise internet connection (2 Gbps scalable to 10 Gbps)". With such a high degree of interest, rigorous tryouts are hosted to determine students' placement competitive rosters.


So what is the result of this "all in" mentality? Well, how does winning the Super Smash Bros.™ Ultimate Atlantic Division and qualifying for HSEL Nationals sound? Add to that, participants in Brawlhalla Spring 24 Premier, VALORANT Fall 23 Premier, another HSEL Nationals qualification for Rainbow Six Siege, and you have yourself quite the resume! As they look to go even further and claim a coveted national championship title, I reached out to Coach DJ himself for more insight into what makes CBC--well--CBC!


Student athletes locked in at the CBC esports lab


What is your esports programs' origin story?

In 2018, one of the CBC High School students was competing in Overwatch professional competitions, where he would ultimately play for the Atlanta and Vancouver OWL teams following his time at CBC. This got administration interested in the concept of esports as CBC High School is well known for its athletics program. The Principal and Director of Admissions visited the gaming club on campus and witnessed a large gathering of students, on top of desks, under chairs, all packed like sardines in a classroom for an after-school meetup. They met with multiple collegiate organizations such as the local Maryville University to learn about what esports is and how they could invest into their students interests, and ultimately ended up creating one of the largest spaces for esports at the high school level with a 48 PC, 12 Console room in the athletics wing of the school during 2019. After starting the program, COVID-19 lockdowns occurred, so many athletics programs were affected and competitions were canceled. The esports program thrived in the online environment despite the struggles, leading to Fall of 2020 being the first full season our students competed in.


Did you have to overcome any challenges to get your program off the ground?

COVID-19 changed many aspects of how our school functioned, though I cannot speak on the specifics as I was hired in March of 21 to take over the program during its fledgling stage. There were many precautions created to keep our students safe while still promoting on ground opportunities for students to connect and build those relationships they had missed out on while we were fully online. This meant each of the 50+ stations being wiped down after use, and any peripherals students used. Due to the hybrid learning schedule and students regularly dealing with the rest of the issues facing quarantine, the development of our program in full took a year longer than expected. The program was also initially run by the Principal and Director of Admissions during the first season for the program in Fa 20, so they also had many scheduling commitments they had to juggle during this time of crisis as well. COVID also served as an opportunity for our esports program since many incoming students had missed a year of socialization due to online learning, and gaming was a great bonding exercise to reintroduce students on campus.


What has been the highlight of your school's competitive journey in HSEL thus far?

HSEL has offered many titles our students would otherwise never have the opportunity to compete in while they're here in high school. Our Rainbow 6 Siege teams over the years have especially been a bright spot, as due to the 16+ requirement, many times this was a title our students have loved either on Console or PC and they finally had a chance to compete in it with their friends before they graduated and has acted as a last 'hoorah' to end their time at CBC on a high note with their teammates. R6S has succeeded especially as a unifying agent between the different cores of the school, as regularly our teams are filled with football players, drama club members, stem students, and otherwise social wallflowers who just like playing the game all on the same team.


What are you most looking forward to this spring season?

This spring season, our teams are looking to finish their years strong. We had several instances of success in the fall season, but due to sport or academic commitments, there's been fewer opportunities for our students to compete at the level they want to. Overall, our R6S team despite qualifying for the National finals want to win the Major and prove to themselves that they can get over the hurdle before nationals comes up. For our SSBU and Brawlhalla players, they're very excited for the added levels of competition they missed out on in the fall season. SSBU with the new central region leading to us playing more local schools or players we've competed against in tournaments in the Midwest, and Brawlhalla with the Premier division to see how they compete against the best of the best each week. We look forward to the [HSEL] National Finals taking place locally in Missouri! We hope to defend our home state and compete against the best in the country.


CBC knows how to work hard AND play hard!


Do you have any advice for fellow peers who are leading--or looking to lead--their school's esports program?

Whatever your title is in esports at the high school level, the expectation is that you might not know as much about each game's individual mechanics as your students do. I would recommend leaning on student leaders to help bridge that gap while focusing on building out other skills that will support your students during their time with your team. Skills such as teamwork, adaptability, communication, review, and accountability are universal and can support your students far beyond the years they play these games. I'd also recommend setting boundaries and regimens to help foster those skills in your teams so they don't view these competitions as just another 'gaming session with the boys' and begin putting in the work ethic they need to succeed in what they want out of their time in your program. In our program we start off each practice session with 10 minutes of stretches and physical exercise to get our players in the right headspace and promote healthy habits.


 

David Stone

Commissioner of Competition

HSEL, MSEL, & Youth Winner's Circle


"In esports, I found my community AND my competitive spirit. I’m so thankful for the privilege I had in school where I was able to explore my musical passion, and I want to play a role providing that same opportunity to the students now, tomorrow, and forever. I want to give students a reason to come to school, just like I had."



 

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