“I heard Esports and I thought they’re bringing Esports to Peach County? Peach County?”
FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — The GHSA, in partnership with PlayVS, added esports as an official athletic event in the fall of 2018. Since then, Peach County High School’s esports team has made a name for itself and continues to grow exponentially.
“When I came to this school, I thought it was a sports school. This is more of a physical school. And then I heard esports, and I thought they’re bringing esports to Peach County? Peach County?” said Splatoon captain Jaquavion Watkins.
The Peach County Esports team first came to fruition in the spring of 2021. The Trojans first began competing in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Rocket League. And last spring, Madden was added to the slate of events, and the Trojans quickly rose through the ranks with a player claiming an individual state title.
“I had two players signed up and one played exclusively on Xbox, but we had to compete on PlayStation. So we got a PlayStation, and he went easily from Xbox to PlayStation, and he came with confidence, and we went all the way to state and ended up actually competing at the national level and finishing number two in the state,” he said head coach Dustin Chancellor.
Trevor Emmert, the player who was ranked No. 2 in Madden nationally, earned a scholarship for his post-secondary education. Now 175 colleges and universities are members of the National Collegiate Esports Association, which provides esports scholarships and programs.
“When I joined esports, I just wanted to have fun. I didn’t even know there was a scholarship. I just wanted to join. But now that I know there’s a scholarship, I kind of have to put in a little more effort than I did originally.”
According to Statista, the global esports market is valued at $1.38 billion, and this is just the beginning. Even a Peach County high school is hoping to have its own facility for an esports program.
“But really, I just want to get more and more students involved. And those who maybe don’t like shooting hoops or throwing a football or kicking a soccer ball around, but like playing video games, we want to try to get as much into that as possible and see the program grow that way as well.”