May 26, 2023
USCHS Esports team finishes top 8 in Pennsylvania
In its inaugural year, the Upper St. Clair High School Esports Club had a successful season in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Esports Association (PIEA). The varsity-level Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team finished in the top eight in the commonwealth, reaching the quarterfinals. The club’s Overwatch 2 team finished first in the junior varsity division.
The PIEA is comprised of teams from nearly 100 high schools throughout Pennsylvania. According to its website, “the PIEA is a nonprofit entity established to provide regulatory oversight and competition guidelines for interscholastic esports in Pennsylvania.”
Science teacher Monica Erwin serves as the faculty sponsor for the USCHS Esports Club. There are 28 players on Upper St. Clair’s competitive teams and more than 50 students competed in the club’s two in-school tournaments. She credits USCHS juniors Shiven Verma and Mahir Parmar with the club’s growth and success.
“In the fall, we competed with PlayVS and had a Rocket League team, two Super Smash Bros. teams, and an all-girls Mario Kart team,” Mrs. Erwin said. “In the spring, we competed with the PIEA with one Super Smash Bros. team and one Overwatch team.”
The USC Esports Club will host a two-day tournament alongside the school’s upcoming Pickleball Tournament. The tournament will feature brackets for Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and Rocket League.
This year, the USC Esports Club met once per week. Next year, the club plans to meet at least once per week and have afterschool practices. Mrs. Erwin is also looking to add more game titles, including Valorant and League of Legends.
All regular season games are played virtually. The varsity-level semifinals and finals for the PIEA tournament are held in-person. For Super Smash Bros., play-off games were held at Pittsburgh Technical College and for Overwatch, they were held in Philadelphia.
Esports is a fast-growing sport and industry with several universities, including The Ohio State, Robert Morris University, Miami University of Ohio, the University of Akron, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, and Shenandoah University offering scholarship opportunities and/or degree programs.
“Esports gives students a way to develop skills that can lead to the development of friendships and connections, soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, as well as scholarship opportunities and career pathways,” Mrs. Erwin said.
Mrs. Erwin noted that Esports offers students both social and academic opportunities. As a Network of Academic and Scholastic Esports Federations (NASEF) 2022-23 Scholastic Fellow, she has developed connections with other educators throughout the world who share her enthusiasm for Esports and the opportunities it provides for students.
“Currently, the club is working with a school from Japan to showcase what we do here for Esports,” Mrs. Erwin said. “USC Esports worked with the Japanese class to create a video talking about our programs, answering questions from the Japanese students, as well as asking a few questions of our own. We are currently working on a video to send back to them.”
PIEA is hosting a recruiting combine Aug. 19-20 in Harrisburg, Penn., where representatives from more than a dozen colleges will be actively recruiting. For more information or to register, visit https://fs20.formsite.com/hfhwYI/Combine2023/index.