New kinds of athletes go head to head at esports tournament

High school athletics help young people develop skills like leadership, communication, and teamwork. But not everyone wants to be a football or hockey star.

Fenworks, a Grand Forks based esports company, hosted their first esports tournament at the Alerus Center on April 2. It’s definitely not your usual sporting event. Athletes aren’t working up a sweat today. They’re mostly sitting down, laser-focused on the screens in front of them.

“We have 150 students from across North Dakota and Minnesota coming to Grand Forks to compete in our annual Esports tournament,” Dschaak said, the CEO and Founder of Fenworks.

He’s excited to show the world of Esports to the families of players participating today.

“That’s been a ton of fun watching them, watch the games, get involved, get invested in their kids lives,” Dschaak said.

Teams playing games like Rocket League went head to head in front of crowd, projected on a massive screen.

There was even a virtual reality station today, where players put on special equipment and entered a virtual world.

Chris Kirchner coaches the esports team for Park Rapids High School. His passion for coaching comes from a long love of gaming.

“I’ve been playing video games since I was in eighth grade,” Kirchner said. “And so I tell the kids I go I’ve been playing games longer than you’ve been alive.”

He said some people still have misconceptions about esports.

“They think, oh, gamers are sitting in their mom’s basement, their dad’s basement till wee hours of the night,” he said.

He argues that a lot of the skills you learn in other sports apply just as well to Esports.

“You’re strategizing with your team, you’re working on a team and let’s face it, these kids are gonna leave here and get out of high school graduate and they’re gonna be working on teams the whole their whole lives,” Kirchner said.

At the end of the day, videogames can be a lot of fun. And today’s a chance to showcase the talents of a different kind of high school athlete.

“There’s kids out there playing video games, get them out here, get them having fun, and bring it to the spotlight, bring them a spotlight, make them feel special,” Kirchner said.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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