Kettle Run games take it up a level with esports
In this particular quarterfinal high school match, there were no emotional moments of helmet bumping or end zone celebrations. No uniforms or bleachers, either, and no running or jumping. The only balls were one-dimensional. -- on screens in front of the players.
During the first match of the VHSL-sponsored esports playoffs at Kettle Run Thursday, Jan. 9, the atmosphere was decidedly understated, but there were moments that elicited cheers. Not long after the opening bell of the first Rocket League match, two Kettle Run teammates crashed their cars, catching a giant ball between them. The ball was squeezed tight; under the pressure it shot clear across the playing field. It was unclear whether the move was the result of clever strategy or a happy accident, but either way, it was apparently a good thing. A rare moment of celebration broke out in room 204.
The celebration was predictive. The Kettle Run squad won the match and is headed to the state tournament at Shenandoah University on Jan. 18.
Kettle Run esports coach Kurt Mergen said that the school piloted a program in the fall of 2018 with 19 students. That spring, the number doubled. For the fall 2019 season, 47 students were on the roster.
Mergen describes himself as a liaison rather than a coach. “The kids are leading the way; I’m just here to facilitate.” He volunteers his time on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the teams meet to practice.
Kettle Run has four teams that play Rocket League (three players each) and League of ...
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