Super Coach Kamireon Douglas Describes Helping Students Mature Into Esports Athletes
Going the extra mile allows this Super Coach to impact high schoolers' lives both in and outside the classroom
When he was a kid, there was no such thing as esports. Instead, Kamireon Douglas and his friends would lug their 128-bit Xbox systems around in search of LAN parties rife with competition and rich in highly caffeinated beverages. But it was his school librarian who made the biggest impact on their abilities, allowing students to use the library after hours in order to form friendships and become better players.
Now a teacher himself, Douglas runs the McDonald County High School esports program, giving him another pathway to reach students, develop their minds and help them grow into young adults.
“I had been a coach for our Academic Team (Scholar Bowl) as well as our Speech and Debate team for a few years,” he recently told PlayVS. “In terms of esports, I had coached a number of friends in how to play the games over the years.”
That made him a natural fit to build the program, giving kids who don’t thrive in traditional sports for one reason or another a way to channel their competitive spirits.
“Because this is a team event, my team wants to compete,” he said. “Even when I am not pushing our student athletes to have the grades, they are pushing each other. If one person is failing, then the team works together to help them pass. If someone has behavior problems, the team works to help them fix things long before I have to say a word. It truly is incredible”
It was through sharing his own experiences as a competitive gamer that interest was sparked among the students, and the rest is history. With ongoing worldwide championships and scholarships available to talented players, interest has grown so much so that Douglas now coaches about 40 players in games like League of Legends, Hearthstone and Overwatch.
“Every year, our team hosts a LAN party on a Saturday which helps us recruit new members as well as act as a fundraiser for the organization,” he said.
Prior to joining the PlayVS platform, Douglas laments that the McDonald esports team struggled through a myriad of technical issues, which distracted from his school’s core focus – to enrich the players’ lives, disciplining them with regular practices and preparing them for matches.
Now that his team is competing in the PlayVS fall season, Douglas wants to instill as many good habits as possible. That means making them aware of toxic behavior they may encounter, like how to avoid in-game rage, while addressing the athletes’ physical, mental and social health. Part of that, he says, is regular participation in practice and reviewing positive in-game behavior that will help the team excel.
“My students know that we have to work on team communication and coordination,” he said. “They can play for fun at home, or work on individual mechanics in their own time. But when it comes time to practice, the team completely changes. We do things like: take turns shotcalling, practice new rolls or champs, try out level strats, and discuss gameplay from the week.”
That way his students might enjoy everything that high school esports has to offer – and a few of them, he hopes, might even get good enough to play at the collegiate level, or even go pro.
“When it became clear we had students interested in more than just playing for fun, who had that drive and motivation to improve, I knew we had arrived. And every year, the demand is there to keep the tradition going.”