In April, Tallmadge High School sophomore Sam Ruby jokingly suggested to his physical education teacher Collin Epstein that they should have an esports league. 

About a month later, the new club received unanimous approval from the board of education and could start competing as early as this fall. Nearly 90 high school students have already expressed interest in joining the club, and there are talks of extending the club to eighth graders in the STEM program.

“I’m really excited,” Ruby said. “I’m really interested in the tournaments and competition and also the community we’ll build. I’ll get to introduce people to different games, and possibly get introduced to different games myself and hopefully making lots of friends.” 

Esports, or electronic sports, is competitive, organized video gaming that has been increasing in popularity locally and across the country. Nearby, Stow-Munroe Falls, Akron Public Schools, Barberton and Medina already have clubs, and at the collegiate level, all 12 MAC schools and Ohio State University have teams as well. 

According to Epstein, over $60 million in scholarships associated with esports are awarded each year.

Mackenzie McLain, 15, plays a video game at her home Wednesday in Tallmadge. Mackenzie is one of about 90 students who have expressed interest in joining a new esports club at Tallmadge High School.

“Not just for playing video games but also for video game production, game analysis, web design, marketing and social media on Discord and Twitch servers. It’s a growing industry for sure in college and beyond,” he said. 

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“This is a real opportunity,” Superintendent Steve Wood said. “About 70{13aab5633489a05526ae1065595c074aeca3e93df6390063fabaebff206207ec} who sign up are kids who aren’t involved in other sports, so it’s a cool new opportunity for some kids who maybe don’t fit our present suite of extracurriculars.”