Hmong College Prep Academy Launches Esports Team

By Dave Bonko

 

Hmong College Prep Academy announced it has added esports to its student activity lineup.

Electronic sports, (esports) is one of the fastest growing high school activities in the United States. The High School Esports League oversees 3,100+ schools and 100,000+ student participants in the United States. Now a billion-dollar industry with revenues from sponsorships, advertising and media rights as well as other sources, electronic sports’ revenues are expected to top $1.62B by 2024. Global viewership is also forecasted to grow to 646M people in 2022, nearly double its 2017 audience.

HCPA’s eSport program is coordinated by high school English language arts teacher Michael Seitz and high school mathematics teacher Brandon Bunney.

“Esports pits players and teams against each other in competitive video games,” explained Mr. Seitz. “People often think of video gaming as an individual activity but that is not true for many games today. Competitive online video games require players to coordinate with one another and accomplish objectives in order to win the game; similar to how a basketball team must coordinate with one another to score points to win.”

The idea of an HCPA esports team began in 2020 when a student approached Mr. Seitz about serving as the team’s faculty advisor. Since then, members have worked to gain school approval. “I thought this would be a great opportunity for students to get involved outside of school and hopefully open up some opportunities for scholarships in colleges since more and more schools are creating their own esports programs.”

College esports continues to grow. In 2021, Membership in the National Association of Collegiate Esports reached over 170 teams and 5,000-plus student athletes. In addition, over $16 million in esports scholarships and aid has been disbursed.

HCPA’s season recently began. This year, the team will not participate in an official season; however, there are many avenues for competition.

“Minnesota has its own regional esports league and there are national organizations through whom we can find opponents,” stated Mr. Seitz. “We’ll be looking to primarily compete against local area high schools this season.”

At the moment, 12 HCPA students are participating on this year’s team. Students must maintain a C average in all classes and have a respectful attitude towards others during games and while in class.

“This year, HCPA students are competing in League of Legends, a game that requires a team of five players to work together to take on different objectives and ultimately destroy their enemy’s base,” added Mr. Seitz. “It’s a game that requires player coordination and a level of problem solving you don’t see in many other competitive activities and sports.”

Though not yet officially sanctioned activity, Mr. Seitz feels the esports growth will soon draw the attention of the Minnesota State High School League.

“More and more high schools and college are picking up esports as a way for students to compete through school, so I think there is a lot of growth still coming. The esports scene has grown immensely over the years and the pro esports scene has become very impressive. In addition, 17 state high school activities governing bodies have formal esports leagues. I think if schools continue to pick it up and create esports teams, it’s very possible that we’ll see it become a sanctioned activity here in Minnesota.”

Hmong College Prep Academy is located at 1515 Brewster Street in St. Paul, southeast of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. For more information about the school, interested parties can call 651-209-8002 or online at www.hcpak12.org. The school is enrolling students for the 2021-2022 school year. Space is extremely limited.

***