EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – The team might meet as many as four times a week to get their game faces on.
Pre-AP Chem teacher Kate Swearingen is the coach of this Edmond Memorial Bulldog squad that plays Smash Brothers, Rocket League and League of Legends.
Kate grew up playing computer games with her brother and liked the idea of coaching.
“We encourage each other. We help each other,” she says.
Not that she’s better at the games than her students (she’s the first to admit she’s not), but because there’s more to teach.
“To commit themselves,” she offers. “and to get them to practice. That’s what it’s all about.”
Sophomore Grayson Hyatt has only been playing Rocket League for five years, but he’s already nationally ranked as a ‘supersonic legend’.
“You just have to play a lot,” he says while staring at his game screen. “Getting your rotations right, and knowing how to touch the ball and when.”
Devin Roberts won a state individual title at the first ever Oklahoma E Sports League Championships this spring.
His game is Smash Brothers.
His secret – time played and the ability to change fighting styles mid-game.
“It’s all in how adaptable you are,” he says.
Like any sport, communication between teammates is key.
Scouting your opponent is important.
But the Bulldogs took one more piece of hardware home from state as well.
Swearingen was named Coach of the Year.
Her E-Sport athletes had a name for the sense of calm she taught them in tense moments.
“I overheard them talking in comms and they were saying there was a ‘Swearingen diff’. That’s gamer talk for they thought I was making a difference. So that’s what made me feel like Coach of the Year,” she said.
Victories on the field and on the screen are precious for the work it takes, for the skills learned and for the bonds made that last much longer than the contest itself.
The Bulldogs ended up as the top high school E-Sports team in the state by winning the League of Legends title and taking third in Rocket League.
Devin Roberts won the Smash Brothers individual title along with a $10,000 scholarship.