Esports program launches in Hannibal schools; Spring season approaching

After a successful inaugural season in the fall, the Hannibal Central School District’s esports team is gearing up for its spring season.

According to coach James Schwartz, esports provides players with an opportunity to compete against their peers from other schools. Students have state-of-the-art gaming technology available to work together, strategize and compete in games such as Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart.

“For a lot of our students, they’ve played these games before but not on competitive teams,” Schwartz said. “Esports gives them a chance to work together in a team environment. They are able to develop soft skills like communication and problem-solving, and they also develop leadership skills.”

Schwartz noted that the skills students learn in esports can provide additional opportunities in the future. Several local colleges offer scholarships to students for participating on college esports teams, including Oswego and Syracuse, he added.

For Schwartz, one of the most rewarding parts of coaching the team is watching students come out of their shell and thrive in a team atmosphere. Many of the fall esports participants had not been involved in other school-related extracurricular activities, and esports provided a chance to reach additional students.

“I think for many of our students, this is their first sports team they’ve played on, and watching them develop teamwork skills and be connected to something larger than themselves is fantastic,” Schwartz said. “I also think we get a lot of students from other sports who are excited to try something new and bring an outstanding level of leadership and predeveloped skills to the table. It’s exciting to watch students of all skill levels, abilities, and walks of life, working together and helping each other out.”