MHS Esports holds open house showcasing new gaming space

T-R PHOTO BY NICK BAUR Community members were given a look at the newly completed MHS Esports gaming room at the Marshalltown High School Monday evening, where students will be able to participate in competitive gaming events for the foreseeable future.

Community members flocked to Marshalltown High School Monday evening to sneak a peek at the newly finished MHS Esports gaming room.

Part of the team’s inaugural season at MHS, the completed gaming room has become something of a milestone for the fledgling extra curricular activity, which has now found a permanent home at the high school.

“Honestly, having our own dedicated area, it’s kind of like having your own football field to go to practice,” said Esports Coach Jose Ramirez. “It’s definitely very fun to have your own space to go in. That’s yours for them to not be disturbed.”

Nearly a year in the making, the room has been completely transformed from a vacant space to a packed gaming hub for students, boasting 12 PCs, two large flat screen televisions, and plenty of Bobcat and gaming themed adornments throughout.

“When we first started out with having nothing here besides chairs, tables, it’s wide open now,” fellow Esports Coach Andrew Claseman said. “We added furniture and stuff like that, so it makes it more lively.”

With teams for Varsity, JV, and club-level players, MHS Esports has seen quite the plurality of students walk in the gaming room doors and become interested in joining the organization. Whether it be hardcore gamers, first-time players, or those in between, Ramirez says a high point for him this season has been simply watching all these types of students become so engaged in the sport.

“One of my highlights is just honestly seeing these kids competing,” Ramirez said. “Some of these kids, you’ve never really seen join a sport, or some of them aren’t ever wanting to do something physical.”

With many games in esports often relying heavily on team dynamics and interpersonal relations, Ramirez also reported a blossoming of both within the MHS Esports team.

“Some of them probably might not have ever seen each other in the hallway, or have seen each other and not really interacted much,” Ramirez said. “Seeing them message each other and be like, ‘Hey, let’s play this’ or ‘Hey, you guys around to play on the weekend together. Let’s join a game after school or something after practice.’ We’re definitely seeing them come together as well as a normal team. It’s really nice.”

The MHS Overwatch team currently possesses a 3-2 record in their winter season as part of the Iowa High School Esports Association (IAHSEA) league, racking up wins against established programs out of Williamsburg and Davenport. So far, as Claseman indicated, it has been a better than expected start for the new program.

“It’s been going pretty good, between practice and games, I think it has been going pretty well,” Claseman said. “Some teams in our division are really tough. Tomorrow we go against Linn-Mar, which is a top tier [team]. So it’s gonna be a tough game for us, but we’re excited to see how it goes.”

Once the Overwatch team wraps up their season, MHS Esports will transition to playing Mario Kart in the spring, bringing another opportunity for students to compete against teams across the state. Claseman said they even plan to bring Amber Lawthers, MCC Mario Kart National Champion and MHS alum, to give the team some pointers before the season starts.

Underscoring the evening was the community and administrative support for the program that has resulted in not only the creation of the team, but the state-of-the-art gaming room where many students will now spend hours after school competing with and against their peers. As Ramirez says, it has, at times, been almost “overwhelming.”

“It’s definitely been phenomenal,” Ramirez said. “Honestly, there’s been so much community support from everyone. It’s been very surprising because even just from the league (IAHSEA), we had meetings with them, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, sometimes you might get a little pushback from the community.’ And really, we have since never had an issue, no one has ever said. ‘No, I don’t think we should do this.'”


Contact Nick Baur at 641-753-6611 or nbaur@timesrepublican.com.


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