Westridge eSports Brings Students Together During Social Distancing

Earlier this school year, sophomore Jaydn I. had an idea to start the first eSports team in Westridge history (eSports refers to competitive video game play and is part of official high school athletic departments in nine states and the California Interscholastic Federation [CIF]). That idea became a reality this spring, when six Upper School students—Giulia W. ’22, Katelyn B. ’22, Xochitl M. ’22, Mags G. ’22, Millie K. ’22, and Jadyn herself—came together to form Westridge eSports under the guidance of coach Joe Jacko, who also serves as head coach of eSports at the University of Southern California.

Now, during a time of social distancing when spring athletics competitions have sadly been canceled, the Westridge eSports team finds themselves in the unique position of being able to continue their Rocket League scrimmages remotely.

A screenshot from a recent Westridge eSports Rocket League scrimmage.

“While it is really nice to physically be around my friends and teammates,” said Xochitl, “the remote learning transition has gone fairly well for eSports, as we can still talk and play together [from a distance].”

The team competed in several CIF games in March but are now limited to participating in practice matches, due to CIF’s cancellations. However, the team is enthusiastic about continuing to build their skills and stay connected as a group during this time.

“It’s really fun to practice and work together as a team,” said Katelyn. “It feels very bonding and rewarding when you score that final goal as team and win the game.”

“The team is really good about supporting each other,” added Jadyn, “and we get to learn the game and improve as a group (we also have matching t-shirts, and nothing says team bonding like matching outfits)! Having eSports practice gives me something to look forward to each week.”

The Westridge eSports t-shirt design features a cyborg tiger on the front, and a circuit on the back.

eSports is serious business. The CIF has stated that “students who engage in esports are much more likely to pursue STEM fields”; unfortunately, women remain severely underrepresented in the world of gaming and game design, but Jadyn is proud that Westridge eSports is filling that gap.

“Women in eSports are especially important, as even college eSports teams don’t have enough female representation,” said Jadyn. “Our all-girls gaming team is incredibly significant, not just for eSports, but for the entire video game industry itself.”

Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.








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