Poplar Bluff High School Esports Club to enter statewide competition

Poplar Bluff High School's newly-launched esports club hopes to join the statewide competition this year
Published: Oct. 10, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2023 at 3:24 PM CDT
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POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KFVS) - The recently launched Poplar Bluff High School esports club is determined to join the statewide competition circuit this year.

According to a release from Poplar Bluff R-1, while the coaching positions are voluntary and the equipment is on loan, there are a few leads to secure start-up funding with a contingency plan in place, proponents report, and plenty of student interest in competitive multiplayer video gaming.

“Scouts are recruiting at state tournaments and giving students a full ride to college, opening up more avenues to attain a higher education for kids who maybe didn’t have an opportunity to go before,” said sponsor Cody Cassinger, PBHS Help Desk assistant. “Kids that compete in esports are 10 percent more likely to get scholarships than students who compete in athletics--because it’s not overly saturated right now and colleges are trying to build their teams.”

About a dozen students made the initial team, meeting after school four days per week at the Help Desk. Cassinger, along with voluntary assistant Joe Salamone of the district’s Instructional Technology Department, have lent out their personal Nintendo Switches in order for students to begin practicing.

The consoles will enable the team to enter the Super Smash Bros. tournament hosted in January by the nonprofit Missouri Scholastic Esports Federation (MOSEF). However, the goal is to compete by the winter season in December, if five gaming computers capable of streaming are obtained for the school to hold additional tryouts to vie online in Apex Legends.

Organizers are actively seeking grant opportunities to meet the sign-up deadline and have received a couple of contributions via DonorsChoose thus far.

“Providing an esports option ensures no talent goes untapped,” the project description states in part. With a budget request of approximately $2,000, the entry goes on to say that the acquisition of the devices “ensures that every student finds their place to shine…aligning with the school’s mission to foster well-rounded, engaged learners.”

“My goal is to have a trophy in the trophy case with Poplar Bluff Esports right there,” said Salamone, who plans to split duties with fellow computer technician Kyle Pearson, once the team expands. “If we can figure out a way to merge our passion for technology, and Cody’s passion for helping kids, the program will have longevity – and persist well after all of us.”