Developing High School Esports and Resources to Support New Coaches

Middle & High School Track

10/09/20, 12:30PM - 1:00PM PT

About the Presentation

My own experience getting started in esports was one of rapidly failing forward with few accessible outside resources and little clarity around best-practices. In the hopes of expediting the process for new coaches, I surveyed both veteran and potential esports coaches in February, 2020 as part of an audience, contextual, and needs analysis for a training module I was developing.

It was determined that veteran coaches were typically experienced teachers who volunteered their time to run after-school club or sports teams which were founded based on student interest. They have 1-3 years of esports coaching experience, and spend the vast majority of their time managing rosters and supervising gameplay. Some also provide active coaching or play alongside students. These coaches rated using Discord, developing good sportsmanship, managing grade checks, tryouts, and paperwork, utilizing IT support resources, and streaming as fairly easy. Fundraising, sponsorship and resource development, budgeting, community outreach to parents and staff, and utilizing volunteers were rated as very difficult. Beyond this, they also indicated that they were having difficulty building warmup, cooldown, health, and wellness routines into practice, getting students to use analytics and statistics effectively, and developing purposeful practice mentalities in students. All too often, club time was simply playing games and tournament matches.

Prospective coaches were also typically veteran teachers with more esports game knowledge than I expected. They are more likely than in prior years to be starting esports teams based on top-down initiatives by athletic coordinators than ground-up student-interest. They had already started considering issues like recruiting inclusively, shaping team culture, producing streams and VoD’s, and developing robust practice routines that incorporate elements of deliberate practice, health, and wellness, and simply need convenient resources and tutorials that work with their busy schedules.

The research helped shape the development of the website, Esports Training for New Coaches, which is intended to be a time-efficient, self-directed one-stop-shop for new coaches (and may also have some helpful info and resources for veteran coaches). Since this work was all completed pre-COVID, additional challenges from distance learning environments such as addressing resource inequities in play-from-home scenarios, recruiting remotely, and maintaining high student engagement have not yet been addressed, although many of these issues were discussed in the NASEF Scholastic Fellows’ Zoom conferences.

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Alexander Wurden

Science teacher and esports coach, Oakmont High School

Alex Wurden is a science and engineering teacher at Oakmont High School in Roseville, CA. His three years leading esports club teams have been informed by pre-teaching industry experience in research, data analysis, and business management as well as a love of fitness and gaming. He was a NASEF Fellow, developed a curriculum around Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” and Tim Gallwey’s “Inner Game of Tennis”, and recently completed a Masters in Education Technology at Arizona State University. He published the website “Esports Training for New Coaches” in the hopes of sharing three years of hard-earned esports coaching wisdom with the nascent high school esports community. And though his League of Legends and Rocket League gameplay are severely hindered by old-man reflexes and lack of game time, his commitment to purposeful practice, the importance of play, and building an inclusive community is undeniable.