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FHS eSports

Posted on: May 10, 2022 6:00 pm

Franklin High School’s esports team completes first season

It turns out that the kids were right all along: Video games are not a waste of time. In fact, competitive video gaming, known as electronic sports or esports — is one of the hottest new school sports activities, and one that can pay off financially: US colleges awarded $16 million in esports scholarships in 2020, contributing to its popularity at the high school high school level.

This spring, Franklin City Schools’ newly established esports team completed its first-ever season. They will head to Miami University Oxford for the regional tournament on May 14-15 and have the chance to experience a university-level esports arena. The state competition is in June.

Franklin’s young team, coached by Matt Slone and Amy Hudson Estepp, competed twice per week, playing Fortnight (a survival game) on Mondays and Rocket League (basically, soccer played with cars) on Wednesdays. Esports Ohio is the state-level managing organization, and Ohio’s teams follow a fixed schedule, with specific sports played on set days. Games can be watched on Twitch, the video-streaming platform that allows the players to interact with their audiences. Anyone interested in seeing what a match is like is welcome to check out the team’s YouTube channel:

Schools may field a team in each game (Ohio has eight games, with two played each day, Monday through Thursday). There are three levels of competition, club, jv, and varsity; and two seasons, spring and fall.

The National Federation of State High School Associations first recognized esports as an official sport in 2018. Ohio jumped in the same year with 16 pilot schools. Now more than 8600 high schools have video-gaming teams. In Ohio, 146 schools have teams and 249 are developing programs.

A 2021 National Education Association article discussed esports’ explosive growth – partially driven by the lure of college scholarships but also noted the appeal to a wide cross section of students (not surprising given that an estimated 90% of teens play video games).

Getting a team started can be challenging, as funding can be hard to secure. Franklin’s team has received donations from several local companies and individuals. A district Spark Grant will be used to purchase broadcast equipment (which will also be available for academic uses).

In Ohio, thirty-nine colleges/universities have esports programs. Miami University was an esports pioneer, launching their varsity program in 2016, the first Division I school to do so. They also offer a Master’s in Esports Management.

While the game doesn’t require cleats and padding, students develop teamwork strategies along with the best of other team and group activities: leadership, collaboration, communication, shared goals, flexibility, and critical and strategic thinking. Those skills translate well to life after high school and it’s not surprising that the Ohio Army National Guard is a partner of Esports Ohio.

FHS sophomore David Walton initially joined the esports team to be a media manager. However, he had the chance to be team captain for Fortnite, and noted, “[it] is such a great honor working with my team to improve their skills in-game while having fun competitively!” He said the best aspect of being a part of the team is making new friends and meeting people from other schools. “I definitely plan to be on this team next year,” he said.

Looking ahead to the fall season, Hudson Estepp said, “We’d love to have more students participate and we’re having an informational meeting on May 11, 6:30 p.m., in the FHS cafeteria.” Those who are interested and can’t attend the meeting should contact Matt Slone at or Hudson Estepp at

esports team