BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — ESports has entered the Kern High School District as a spring sport.
KHSD started ESports last year with just five schools and 80 students. They expanded the program this year to become the largest district to play in California with over 16 schools and 250 students.
"These kids are incredibly competitive," said head coach Justin Smith. "They study up other players, they have counter-plays, they spend hours and hours working on teamwork to play against other schools."
Each school plays in a 12-week schedule. The players log in online to the League of Legends and compete as a team against other schools.
"A lot of these kids when they get done with school, they either play video games or nothing at all," said Smith. "We realized we can focus that positive energy get them engaged in school and we can put them on a team."
As a player, they are held to the same standards as other athletes on a team. They must have a 2.0 GPA or above and follow the code of conduct.
"My motivation to stay on and compete in ESports has definitely [helped] my GPA a lot and I feel like it has helped a lot of people here socialize with each other," said sophomore player Deryk Bentley.
Women and men are invited to play. Each team practices at least 3 days a week.
KHSD will hold a ESports tournament at North High School on April 27.