PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio — You would barely recognize the former computer lab at Holy Name High School in Parma Heights if you had stepped foot inside before the school launched its newest program.
The outdated room had a few Mac computers to complement other underutilized and outdated equipment. What the school did have in the former space was definitely not to be used for gaming of any kind.
Until, that is, Holy Name High School launched its esports program, transforming the dusty old computer lab into a gamer's dream.
In the four years since the program was launched, the Green Wave esports program has garnered five national championships—making one of the first of its kind programs in the area also one of the best.
Senior CJ Forster has been one of the students who have utilized and found success within the program.
“We have this now, we have a huge facility in our own school," Forster said. “While I believe I’m good, I didn’t think I was that good.”
The program helped Forster not only developing his gaming skills, but win college scholarships in the process. Recently, Forster and his teammates competed in a Playstation 4 Rainbow Six Siege tournament and took first place, earning $1,000 in scholarships.
“Things you never expect to happen can actually happen," Forster said.
The school has 45 members in its esports program and is one of the school's top clubs. In the program's first four years, the Green Wave gamers have won about $20,000 in total scholarship money—money that can be used to further their esports careers if they so chose, with more than 100 colleges and universities offering it as a varsity program. In Northeast Ohio, the University of Akron and Kent State University both are members of the ESports Collegiate conference.
“We have kids this year who are receiving multiple scholarship offers to play at different colleges," said PJ Farrell, director of esports at Holy Name High School.
Having such a prominent esports presence has inspired many students to not only compete in esports through high school and into college, but pursue it as a career.
“Have been looking to intern at video game companies, because I’m going into concept art. So just the designing of characters, designing how they move, sketching that all out is what I want to do," said Grace Najpaver, president of Holy Name Esports.
And as the program continues to thrive, other schools in Northeast Ohio have started to reach out to Holy Name High School to learn more about how to launch an esports program of their own.
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