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  • Ivan Chivington

Ready Player One - Kilbourne eSports

Worthington Kilbourne has a variety of clubs that allow the student body to get involved in unique experiences and join in on a community of similar interest. One of the school’s most underappreciated extracurriculars is its Gaming Club and more specifically, the school’s eSports scene, which is ran and coached by Gavin Meeks.

“Gaming Club pre-dated eSports by about 5 years at [Kilbourne]. A group of kids wanted to start a gaming club, so we did. They played electronic games, board games, and card games. eSports started in 2020. A student brought the idea to the administration and they brought it to me.” says Meeks. Kilbourne offers eager young gamers to take a stand in state eSports, playing video games on a competitive level.

Ohio eSports, which has seasons during the fall and spring, is associated with over 100 schools in Ohio, including Kilbourne. The school provides a variety of competitive video games including, but not limited to, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Valorant, and Overwatch 2. Starting this year, Kilbourne even added Mario Kart 8 to the possible lineup. Different games are available at different schools. “I don’t recommend any games more than others. They all are and it is up to the person what they like and want to compete in.”

Its homebase, located in Room 238, (closed during school hours) is the perfect space for invested gamers to practice and compete in, with a set of gaming computers surrounding the back walls and a couch space for console gaming. All in all, the space is cozy and comfortable, with clicks and button presses adding to the atmosphere. Players will be shooting down enemies on one side of the room while racing to the finish on the other. While it’s relatively small and compact, there’s still enough space for teams to meet and play together.

Students dedicate at least one day a week to practice and compete against other students all across the state, online, while in their home base. The stakes of the games and standards for players are as high as most other sports seasons. eSports has both JV and Varsity levels. “A good gamer needs to be willing to put the time in at a competitive level in order to become a great eSports player. Casual gamers will not be able to compete at the levels we play. . . For eSports, you need to be able to be a good communicator with your teammates during play. You also need to be coachable.”

The end of the season culminates in an in-person tournament where each school gets the chance to fight for glory and to represent their school. Teams have the chance to earn trophies for their victories just like any other sport. “The big difference [between eSports and other sports] is we do not have a really physical activity. All the aspects of team play are basically same other than that.”

Despite the scope of eSports statewide, the interest has notably declined at Kilbourne. “Originally, when we started eSports there were over 200 students interested. We have about 25 this year. Not sure why the interest has dropped.” While membership of the club has declined, it’s clear that the community formed is still strong. “Everyone who loves playing online games should check out our program. It is a chance to represent your school and compete at a high level.” Even though interest in the program has declined, the bond of the club remains.

Photo credits - Micah Fenner


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