HARLEM, Ga (WJBF)- Esports are increasing in popularity and are a growing activity in many local high schools.
Columbia County has had esports teams in every high school for years and now one of the coaches is gaining statewide recognition.
Esports are organized video game competitions. The games range from multi player teams in battle arenas to single player first person shooter games. It’s an opportunity for students who may not be interested in other school activities, to gather and do one of their favorite activities- play video games.
Harlem High School’s esports team is in its fourth year. Last year, the team placed second out of more than 100 teams at state competition.
Coach Brad Williams is being recognized as the Georgia High School Association esports coach of the year. He told NewsChannel 6 that it was a big surprise.
“Yeah. It was kind of surreal in the fact that I haven’t won a state championship, just to get that call. But I’m very involved. I’m on the Esports Advisory Council. I kind of helped start that. And just being that point person for the GHSA and how do we make esports grow and how do we kind of, keep it in line with other sports, but also make it its own thing. Because it is different,” explained Williams.
Esports are an activity that students can continue in a college setting. There are even scholarship opportunities for esports athletes.
James Gould is a senior and in his fourth years as an athlete on the team. He said he enjoys getting to game with other students who love it too.
“Well I like esports because video games are something I grew up with, something that a lot of people nowadays grew up with. And its something a lot of people are passionate for,” said Gould. “And when you take something like that and turn it into a competitive lens, and it takes a lot of skill for certain games. So, when you have that amount of passion for what you’re doing, it can be a lot of fun and it can help you improve at something you enjoy.”
Gould added that he is proud of his coach and that no one deserves it more.
Coach Williams will be recognized as GHSA’s Esports Coach of the Year at Tuesday, October 24th’s Columbia County school board meeting at 5:30 p.m.