Esports at Taft: The Interview

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Esports at Taft: The Interview

Aria Taherian

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Did you hear? Esports is coming to Taft, how exciting! We took the liberty of interviewing one of the most important Esports know-hows on campus: Jesse! As the Special Ed Coordinator, you may have seen Jesse working with just about everyone. When he’s not helping out students and teachers, he’s the advisor for the Nintendo Club (which is held every Wednesday at lunch in room C216. Make sure to go check that out). We asked a bunch of questions about Esports in general and about Esports in relation to him. They are as follows.

What is Esports?


Esports are electronic sports that encompass many different genres of games. The main esports games that people know about are League of Legends and Dota, but it also includes fighting games like Super Smash Bros., Street Fighter, Tekken, etc. I have been following esports for forever. The first game I watched people play was Street Fighter 3 in the early 2000s.


How do you feel about the implementation of esports on campus?


I think it’s a great opportunity. It will give many different students to feel part of the school or part of a team. The thing about esports that I love is that anyone can participate. It’s able to teach students good sportsmanship and make them feel the drive to improve and be better. A big part of high school life that I experienced was feeling part of a team. It’s also an excellent opportunity to spread school pride.


What kind of thoughts go through your mind when you hear “High School Esports?”


Again, I think of it as a great opportunity. It’s a new frontier or uncharted territory in a sense. I think its a positive experience in the long run. Since there’s a lot of stigma behind the world that is gaming, introducing esports to a younger population is an excellent opportunity to combat the running connotation of video games. Also, the community aspect is significant. It’ll help build a bridge for that gap between traditional sports, Esports, and otherwise.


How do you think Esports will build into a student’s career?


I think it will give them something that’ll help them strive to improve themselves. It gives them encouragement as a motivator to succeed in their classes so they can take part in Esports.


Why do you think we need Esports?


Just having students from different populations interacting with each other. People with different interests finding something they have in common with other people is fantastic. I think it will show people the positive aspects of gaming. Hopefully, it will change the negative connotations of and about gaming. I believe there are many redeeming qualities about gaming. You never know what someone is going through in their lives outside of school. In my experience, it allows an escape for students. Escape from everyday life.


When I think of esports, I think of a community, so I think that it will build a community at school. You have to be strong of mind to stay concentrated and be better. I think it encourages athletics and being better. I used to go to local arcade tournaments, and it would help me build that strength that can go into other categories. Physical athletics aren’t the only thing behind being athletic; there’s also that mental strength that needs to be built up to make someone great.


The program hasn’t started yet, but it will begin next semester. I would be helping out as an assistant coach. I would be coming up with strategies and helping out the players a lot. I hope along with League of Legends there will be fighting games like smash and street fighter. If there are going to be fighting games, then I would be helping with that too. Esports is a relatively new thing so everyone will be growing a bunch over time and I hope it’s made into a successful thing that is part of everyday high school life.


I look forward to jumping into it and bringing my expertise. I am excited because of the students I talk to they are all excited to see esports and put their mark on Taft high school. If any students feel like they need an adult to talk to about gaming be sure to talk to me. I am always a good option to talk to


I think it opens up new opportunities for someone’s future. There are a lot of careers that are built into gaming and a lot of options for people to look into. Students will also gain a sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. Gaming and esports being part of a community provides an escape and promotes growth for students. It gives them another side of the world that is surfacing and making itself more accessible to people. Things that seemed impossible like becoming a game designer or a popular twitch streamer are becoming more available. Another positive I think about having esports on campus is having students learn sportsmanship in the community on how to lose but more importantly how to win and be respectful to your opponent. It’s not about the outcome; it’s about the journey.



The main reason I got into games was because of my dad he was very interested in Tetris. I grew up in a rough neighborhood. When I was 5, my dad bought me an original Nintendo. I asked my mom why he bought it, and she said it was to stay off the streets. When my dad passed away, I got into games more. I got into Tetris, and that helped me get an escape from the bad things about life. It was my way of dealing with the situation and grieving. I am happy about getting into games because it allowed me to meet people and have positive influences in my life. It kept me on a straight path. Also, I wasn’t really into sports. I played baseball, but I wasn’t that into it. It helped give me self confidence. I was a shy kid growing up, but it gave me a lot of self-confidence going to arcades and playing against people older and better than me and being able to beat them gave me a lot of confidence.


Esports became a big thing for me was EVO. It’s a yearly fighting tournament in Vegas. Once I found out there were qualifiers at local levels and being able to play with outstanding players, I got really into it. That started for me around ‘98 or ‘99 or early 2000 with Street Fighter at the local arcade, and when I saw these top players playing so well, it caught my eye. It started with fighting games. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and League of Legends all came a little bit later, and I follow those too. I’ve been following everything and got really into it, but I started at Street Fighter in the arcade. DDR was also a fascinating thing for me. It was competitive and beautiful, and it made my appreciation of esports grow.


All sports are half physical and half mental. I believe you have to go hard fully to succeed in any sport, but for esports specifically, you have to have a stronger mental than physical. Finger dexterity and reflexes and such.