Maumee Middle School Esports Team Engages And Encourages Students

C.C. Dent competes in the Smash Bros. team finals match against Wadsworth Middle School while his teammates cheer him on. MIRROR PHOTO BY KRISTI FISH

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — During its first year, the Maumee Middle School esports team competed in several games, with the Smash Bros. team making it to the team finals.

On March 14, the students competed in the Esports Ohio Club Team Smash Bros. finals against Wadsworth Middle School.

While the team ultimately lost the finals, making them second overall, players were cheered on by their coach Ashley Fox, principal Angie Wojcik and assistant principal Dan Curtis.

Additionally, the team was supported by Fox’s uncle Justin Beaudry, who she said has helped her navigate video games and learn how to grow the team.

“We would not have been able to start this season if it weren’t for the support of Jason Dugan, director of technology, or Dan Samuel, the high school esports coach,” Fox asaid, in addition to crediting the middle school staff.

Parents and staff were also able to watch a live stream of the event to support the Smash Bros. team of Jaylen Walker, C.C. Dent, David Poeppelmeier, Henry Herman, Immanuel Ohashi, Kaiden Williams, Adam Tysiak, Harper Whitney and Jayden Carter.

“I’m proud of how far we’ve come, the determination from everybody,” C.C. said.

He’s enjoyed his time on the team, he said, having become a big supporter of his teammates, cheering them on and encouraging them throughout matches.

Fellow teammate Jaylen, who said the main priority should be to have fun, has been playing video games for as long as he can remember.

He was excited to try out for the team, which offered students the chance to participate in one of two teams in the club – Mario Kart or Smash Bros.

Walker ultimately joined the Smash Bros. team, which allows players to choose a character, items to play with and a destination.

With each student preferring different characters, they’re able to perfect their own skills and also learn about what’s best for each other’s characters when watching and encouraging.

It can be a lot, though, for anyone to learn.

“You’re trying to get rid of (the opponent’s) stocks, basically their lives,” explained C.C. “You’re trying to knock them off the end so they lose them, while you try not to die.”

Each character has three stocks, or lives. When they lose those, they lose the set.

There are three sets in a match, and the players must win two out of three. If they win those, they win the round.

“We have to win three of five matches to win the game,” Fox explained.

Learning the game was complicated for the coach, who was never a big video game player, but she’s learning a lot from her students and other adult helpers.

“These kids, I’ve really learned a lot from them,” she said. “I think I’ve learned more from them than they have from me.”

When Fox, an intervention specialist at the middle school, agreed to coach the esports teams, she did so because she wanted to offer more opportunities for her students to engage outside the classroom.

I did it because I have students who need socialization outside of the classroom,” she said. “I wanted to do this for them.”

According to Curtis, these extracurricular activities can be beneficial for students who might not be into other sports, but instead have a passion for video games or technology. Embracing those passions allows the students to find common ground with one another and build relationships, he said.

“They might have more engagement in the classroom because of their ability to connect outside of it,” the assistant principal added. “It’s also great for them to see success, especially since this is just their first year.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about the students having fun and making connections, Fox said.

She joined the esports team to make sure her students were engaged inside and outside the classroom and felt supported by the school.

“It just sounded really fun competing against other schools in video games,” Jaylen said. “I just really love video games.”

The students on the Smash Bros. and Mario Kart teams celebrated the end of their season on March 14 and are excited for what next year could bring.

On the Mario Kart team is John Justice, Maezy Kirk, Cohen McCarthy, Bryson McGeorge, John Vanover, Isaac Stott, Gavin Owen and Tristen Williams.

“I am really proud of the teamwork and connections that we made together,” Fox said. “I learned so much as a first-time esports coach. It is incredible how patient my gamers were in teaching me and acclimating to the gaming world.”

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