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New London starts e-sports team

The New London Community School District’s first esports team is hard at work preparing for their season’s competition. From left: Cory Reid, Josiah Denney, Aidan Peeler, Mac White, Simon Cooper, Elijah Curry, Sam Denney. (Ashley Duong/The Union)
The New London Community School District’s first esports team is hard at work preparing for their season’s competition. From left: Cory Reid, Josiah Denney, Aidan Peeler, Mac White, Simon Cooper, Elijah Curry, Sam Denney. (Ashley Duong/The Union)

NEW LONDON — While other teams compete on fields and courts, the New London Community School District’s first e-sports team will be competing on a video screen.

The team is hard at work training for its upcoming Super Smash Bros. season, lead by district business teacher Cory Reid.

“I like video games, and I know esports was starting to become a thing in high schools, so I was just trying to work to get it into our high school,” Reid said.

The group of high school students has been playing together twice a week since school started.

The team will play three seasons, each eight weeks long. In its winter and spring season, the group will be competing in Overwatch and Rocket League.

Reid said he has been trying to get the team off the ground for several years and managed to garner enough interest with students to start this year.

For students, the team is “a fun thing to do after school with friends,” 11th-grader Elijah Curry said.

“I feel a little less like a loser,” Curry jokingly added.

“I was going to play video games after school anyway,” sophomore Simon Cooper said.

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, when hanging out with friends at their houses is no longer an easy or viable option, the after-school activity gives students a space to explore and enjoy their passion for video games at school.

“It’s nice being able to play with other people right now,” senior Aidan Pealer said.

Reid said the team is a new activity for students who may not be interested in athletics or other offerings the school currently has.

“It gives them a different opportunity because not everybody wants to go play a normal sport. It gives this other group a feeling of inclusion with the school playing something they would just normally go home and play,” the teacher said.

Students on the team echoed Reid’s comment about inclusion and new activities being offered by the school.

“It’s nice that the high school is adding a lot of stuff that’s not just sports,” senior Mac White said. “It’s nice to see them branching out a lot.”