Coach Samuel Schachter Recalls How Barrington High Esports Grew Into The School's Pride And Joy
While his team fell just short of the state championship, their first PlayVS season has made a lasting impact with students and parents
It’s already been two years since Barrington High Esports coach Samuel Schachter went ahead and took the plunge to form an esports team; at first, he didn’t know what to expect – but after getting the green light from his administration, an email went out to students schoolwide.
Then he bit his nails, and waited.
“By the end of the day I had over 20 emails and a handful of students in my office hungry for more information,” he recalled to PlayVS. “A few days later I held the meeting and 30 students showed up. Soon after our first practice my roster grew to 48 so it was clear students have been waiting for this.”
It’s something Schachter has hoped to see in high school since he was a student himself, cranking down aliens in Duke Nukem 3D and connecting with friends over Warcraft strategies in the lunch hall.
“That’s when I realized video games had much more to offer than the games themselves. I belonged to a special community, one that brought people together from all over the world and accepted them with no bias,” he said.
And as a teacher at his Rhode Island school, Schachter found a number of students willing to learn esports as a discipline that requires coordination, communication, time management and cognitive skills that might help them in the real world.
“Our competitive team includes players with structured practice twice per week at school, two games per week at school, and work as a team to hold additional practices outside of school,” said Schacter.
Eyeing Season Zero of PlayVS League of Legends competition, he pitched the administration on an opportunity to teach non-athletes other skills in order to get involved: technical support, videography, and team management to name a few. And as students shared their excitement about the program with their parents – many joining a school club for the very first time – Schachter knew he was onto something that everyone appreciated as a way to connect with one another in addition to being an educational tool.
“During that first season’s playoffs, my team (ranked number five) was matched up against the number one seed in the quarter finals,” he said. “That’s when we formed the habit of preparing a variety of different strategies, spreadsheets analyzing the statistics of both teams, and watched countless replays.”
“We were in the front row cheering during the championship finals that year,” he said. “We still talk about these two games and all agree it’s one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences at school.”
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find players high fiving one another in the hallways talking replays, and the team has even formed a casual wing that serves as a club to connect other students who’ve caught on but don’t want to compete. It’s become a huge bright spot for many students to end their days in the gaming labs and learn what esports is all about, realizing the dreams that Schachter had envisioned two years prior.
To learn more about how your school can sign up for PlayVS high school esports competition, check out our guide here.