Ranking up: ASU Prep South Phoenix’s eSports team takes on national competition

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At ASU Prep South Phoenix, a groundbreaking approach to sports is taking the field—or rather, the screen. Under the guidance of Coach Jose Rosario, an English Language Arts teacher with a passion for gaming, the school’s eSports team, having first conquered the state tournament, advanced to the national playoffs, where they competed against schools from across the country and Canada in the action-packed video game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

In their inaugural year, the two ASU Prep South Phoenix eSports teams showcased their skills and strategic prowess during a remarkable run. The Sea Monsters secured a commendable 3rd place out of 25 teams in the state tournament, while the Daredevils captured 15th. The momentum did not stop at the state level, as the Sea Monsters continued their competitive streak into the national tournament, achieving an impressive ranking of 25th out of 133 participating teams, while the Daredevils placed 52nd.

Beyond the game: The benefits of eSports

What is eSports? It’s where video gaming meets competitive sports and it has become increasingly popular in the educational sphere. Platforms like PLAYvs offer schools the tools to build, manage, and compete with eSports teams across the country, tracking stats and scheduling video game matches with ease. It’s within this digital coliseum that ASU Prep South Phoenix’s team has thrived, backed by the Canyon Athletic Association (CAA), which champions the legitimacy of eSports.

CAA highlights several benefits of eSports, from fostering social skills and strategic thinking to encouraging students to manage both triumphs and defeats. “They learn to lose with grace and to be humble when they win. To coach one another, help others and learn from them,” says Coach Rosario.

Furthermore, involvement in eSports can lead to improved attendance, academic performance, and increased interest in STEM careers. This aligns with broader trends showing that students engaged in extracurricular activities often excel in various aspects of their academic and personal lives.

Leadership and learning through eSports

Rosario’s team, comprising mostly middle schoolers, shows immense potential. They’re formidable opponents, despite being some of the youngest competitors in the arena. Coach Rosario describes the team as “a force to be reckoned with…with so much potential.”

One young standout is Francisco de la Cruz, a 7th grader who embodies the spirit of the team, blending competition with camaraderie. “I like having fun with friends and peers, helping others out, learning new techniques,” he shares, capturing the essence of what makes eSports at ASU Prep South Phoenix so special.

His involvement in the team has been transformative, not just in honing his gaming skills but also in personal growth. “It’s making me better because I’ve made more friends and I’m not so shy anymore,” Francisco reflects on how the team has contributed to his confidence and social circle, opening him up to new friendships and experiences.

Coach Rosario praises Francisco’s growth. “I’ve seen him blossom. When our team is facing a loss or a challenge, Francisco tries to look at the positive side of things. He’s a role model for our kids,” says Rosario. “He’s had a great impact not only on the students on our team but also some of the other kids on campus. That’s a beautiful thing.”

These positive effects extend to the whole team’s culture. At the “Game On! ASU Prep community event,” the team took it to another level by hosting a gaming booth. There, they showcased their skills, shared their passion, and motivated the next wave of young gamers.

The spirit of competition continues, with plans to face off in a tournament against a school in Tucson and more game play over the summer. The virtual nature of eSports allows for continuous off-season play, offering endless opportunities for growth and camaraderie.

Looking ahead

ASU Prep South Phoenix’s eSports team exemplifies how traditional notions of sports and education are evolving. Through strategic gameplay, teamwork, and the guiding principles imparted by Coach Rosario, these young gamers are not only competing; they’re preparing for life’s myriad challenges. The teams’ success and the burgeoning interest in eSports hint at a future where digital arenas are as celebrated as physical ones, proving that sportsmanship and competition know no bounds in the digital age.

Discover more about how ASU Preparatory Academy is redefining the educational landscape through innovative programs like eSports. Join us for an upcoming Information Session to learn more about the wide range of educational and extracurricular opportunities we offer.