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Barrington High's David McMillan Talks Honing Skills, Reaching State Finals

A spur-of-the-moment trip to his coach’s office eventually led David to the biggest stage of them all

Jan 08, 2021

Whenever Barrington High School posted flyers supporting tryouts for its newly formed esports team, David McMillan just knew he had to stop by the coach’s office and see if he could join – after all, he was already playing Rocket League just about every day.

With a meeting in place, McMillan raced through the halls to check out his school’s newly minted gaming lab. And while he was excited to share a passion for video games with like-minded competitors at his school, he still wasn’t sure if he’d make the cut (or if his parents would allow him to compete in esports).

“My family was hesitant because they thought I should join a more traditional, ‘serious’ team,” he recalled. The coach encouraged him to relay the benefits of esports back to his parents, including the feeling of camaraderie McMillan would share with his teammates and the opportunity to fine-tune his skills and embody the best that high school esports has to offer.

“Thankfully, my parents quickly realized that I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the experience,” he told PlayVS.

It was a natural fit for McMillan, who had already committed himself to the debate team, swim team and club rowing team. And one thing he was gracious for was the opportunity to connect with other players who understood the boundaries that could be pushed in competitive gaming. After all, Rhode Island’s scene was still developing when his team decided to jump into League of Legends Season Zero.

“I have teammates that were friends before they joined, and also teammates I was completely unfamiliar with before meeting them at practices,” he said. “Through the time we spend in practice and matches though everyone has become closer.”

And that bonding became important as the team’s first season together led them to the playoffs, where they eventually pushed one another hard enough to reach the Rhode Island state finals. 

“Being able to compete at the Johnson & Wales esports facilities was awesome,” he said of the experience. “It was really cool to be able to see that esports is given attention at the collegiate level and to experience something like that for a day.” 

The experience opened his eyes to the possibility of esports after high school – an idea he never entertained prior to his winning experience. Like hundreds of other colleges, Johnson & Wales offers scholarships for ultra-talented players. Whether or not he makes it to the next level remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: The opportunity to run it back with his teammates (and friends) means McMillan will continue striving to become a better esports athlete. 

“I love esports because it gives me an opportunity to compete at a high level in something I spend a lot of time on,” he said. “Esports matches give the game a higher level of intensity and feel more important than any random online match – and it’s something I look forward to continuing to be a part of.”