CARIBOU, Maine — Aroostook County sports team’s state championship victory has been captured on camera. Thanks to their intense concentration and teamwork.
Many adolescents like playing video games to socialize and bond with their peers. However, for one group of Caribou High School students, these games have also helped them learn collaboration. They also achieve a position among the best esports athletes in Maine.
Since the pandemic, organized video game events have gained traction in high school and college athletics. In 2020, the Maine Principals Association added esports to its roster of high school sports. It has since worked with PlayVS to hold autumn and spring regional and state championships. The games educate students on how to collaborate and improve their academic achievement.
Caribou High School and the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, in Aroostook County, have had students finish as runners-up or champions since 2021. The Maine School of Science and Mathematics won the spring 2022 state League of Leagues title.
Last month, a high school team from Caribou, Maine, defeated students from Millinocket, Pittsfield, and North Berwick to win the fall esports championship for Maine.
Juniors Noah Anderson, Ben Leavitt, Alex Belanger, Brady Jalbert, and senior Justin Walton specialize in the computer game Rocket League. They are known as Gilson’s Goons, after their coach.
Except for Anderson, all players joined the squad in 2020, shortly after Gilson and Athletic Director Evan Graves established esports at Caribou High School. The program’s 15 pupils, including Gilson’s Goons, compete every season. Other students participate in leagues for Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and NBA 2K.
Esports emerged as a method for students with similar interests to connect during the pandemic. Like other sports, esports has given them valuable life lessons and skills.
Unlike playing video games for fun, competitiveness entails relying on your colleagues’ strengths and knowing when to let them make the proper choices, according to Walton.
Gilson, a math teacher at Caribou High School, has observed that esports help kids become more self-assured leaders in competitions and the classroom.
Gilson’s Goons are now preparing tto compete against schools nationwide for the virtual portion of the national esports competition in May.
As esports gain popularity in Maine schools, the Caribou kids seek to grow their school’s esports community. Also, educating their peers about the benefits.