EVERSON — A sophomore at Nooksack Valley High School, Jules Hunt split time this year between the school varsity and junior varsity softball teams.
For Hunt, 15, not many people know she plays ball, or that she’s a member of the school’s eSports and technology club. Fact is, Hunt looks forward to a computer programming career.
“New technology is approaching,” she said. “I like working with computers. I think it really fits me.”
Hunt is one of close to three dozen Nooksack Valley students now involved in the school’s eSports program.
Earlier this year, the district’s director of technology, Owen Craig, brought eSports to Nooksack Valley Schools.
“This is a unique time and age where students are seeking connection within our community,” Craig said. “Yet they are beginning to dream about where their skills and interests can take them. Students come together to share ideas, strategies, research and analyze data and to support each other. Some of these students have not always had a place they fit in or feel successful. This is a setting where coaches can encourage learning that feels like play and highlight the connections to their in-school courses. They are developing life skills in communication, responsibility, accountability and extending their learning in fields that can lead to careers.”
Barely three months in, the club will host its first Whatcom High Schools eSports Expo, May 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the Nooksack Valley High School Performing Arts Center, 3326 E. Badger Road., Everson. The event will also be livestreamed at Twitch.tv/Nooksackesports.
Craig explained that the eSports Expo is aimed at students, parents, teachers, and administrators to “help spread knowledge about eSports’ impact on students in high schools and the curriculum behind it.”
“This club is about more than students playing video games with their friends,” Craig said. “We use student interest and confidence in gaming as a jumping point to learn about the many intertwined disciplines like video editing, coding, web design, information technologies and even hands on-experience building and repairing computers.”
Four speakers have committed to talk at the eSports Expo, a professional streamer called Tactical Gramma, her manager, the executive director of the Washington Scholastic Esports Association, and a representative from Highschool.gg, which is a career technical student organization.
For Hunt, the club and now the expo are an opportunity to continue learning about a field she said interests her.
“I enjoy gaming because I don’t have to be better than I am,” Hunt said. “I’m not competitive in my gaming. I enjoy it for the love of it.”
Besides attending Nooksack Valley High School, Paxton Padden is also taking courses at Whatcom Community College and attending Bellingham Aviation to earn his pilot’s license.
He also has plans to attend Bellingham Technical College.
With his eyes on engineering and aviation, Padden has been with Nooksack Valley’s eSport club since the beginning.
“Mr. Craig had approached me in the library asking if I had played a particular game, rocket league,” Padden said. “It was one of my favorite games, so I said yes. He then brought out a computer with the game loaded onto it. He asked me to play some matches, and as I played he introduced the idea of the eSports and technology club.
“Me and my friends were very excited about it as it seemed to be a large thing with our school and this entire school seemed very excited as technology is such a significant part of our lives,” Padden also said. “Especially with COVID and all the local flooding that has been taking place, so it’s very important to start working with kids and teaching them how to use it now. That’s why I’m in the club. I work on teaching other kids how to use useful and fun computer software.”