CHS adds Unified eSports team, new members consider importance

Eva Glazier

The new CHS Unified eSports team met for the first time on Oct. 27. According to Bella Gray, eSports member and senior, the new team is a great way to get involved with Unified sports in a new way.

“I think it’s an amazing way to include kids who don’t like to do outdoor activities as much, and that they can do what they enjoy with their peers around them,” Gray said.

Dylan Gentilcore, Unified eSports team sponsor, fixes a student’s controller at an eSports meeting. Gentilcore said he looks foward to having an unstructured season and thinks the games played in Unified eSports are going to be exciting for all Unified eSports participants. (Austin Guo)

According to Dylan Gentilcore, Unified eSports team sponsor and director of the eSports program, the team was formed after the Special Olympics Indiana reached out about doing a trial run of Unified eSports.

“Special Olympics and Special Olympics Indiana said they were looking to get some teams into what was considered a trial run of what Unified eSports could look like… so, being a person who had the equipment and had the players, or the partner side of things. I was like ‘yeah, sounds like a great (idea. I’d) love to do it,’” he said.

This new addition to the CHS Unified sports program is part of the new Unified chapter of the Indiana High School eSports Network and a broader partnership with Special Olympics Indiana.

Gentilcore said last spring was a trial run for Unified eSports and this year it will be more official and organized with teams competing against other high schools in Indiana.

“(During the trial run), we competed against schools from across the country, actually a little short, abbreviated Unified season and we had a lot of fun doing that. After that experience, I thought it’d be really great if we could do something like that in Indiana, and just a little bit more organized, you know, just a little bit of that homier feeling because we’re competing against other schools that we know have their Unified programs,” Gentilcore said.

According to Lillian “Lily” Waikel,  new participant in Unified eSports and junior, Unified eSports will provide more options for all types of students to get involved with the Unified program at this school.

Waikel via email said, “I really like how Carmel is introducing more Unified sports. Unified eSports will give the athletes more choices in what they really want to do. Some athletes would rather play video games and this gives them the opportunity to do that.”

Katherine “Katie” Miller, another member of the team, said she is in agreement with Waikel.

Miller said, “It’s great that unified sports are being expanded to fit more people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities, hobbies and interests.”

Katie Miller (right), Unified eSports player and junior, helps her partner play Rocket League. Miller said she thought it was great that Unified Sports are being expanded with the addition of eSports to accommodate people regardless of their differences in interests. (Austin Guo)

As part of the eSports team, members will play “Rocket League” in the fall and “Super Smash Bros” in the spring, as well as other games throughout the year.

Gentilcore said the nature of these games make them accessible and easy for all to play.

“These are very easy to pick up and play. (Rocket League) is kind of like a three-on-three soccer game, except instead of controlling a person, you’re controlling a little car and that car hits the soccer ball between your teammates and into the net.”

Ali Persinger

Gray said students should join Unified eSports if they are on the fence about it.

“Everyone should definitely join,” she said. “The best decision I’ve made throughout high school is joining Unified because I’ve created so many friendships, and it’s not even just friendships, it’s like a family. And it’s such a positive and happy atmosphere 10 out of 10 recommend. (The Unified program) is amazing.”

Additionally, the concept of eSports itself is growing and new. According to Insider Intelligence, investments in the eSports industry went from 490 million to 4.3 billion dollars from 2017 to 2018, an increase of 837%.

According to Gentilcore, since both the concepts of eSports and Unified eSports are new, this season will provide room for flexibility.

“I’m looking forward to having a really fun unstructured season. We will always have an opponent scheduled for us and that will help build up some great team synergy and have some fun experiences playing against those opponents on a regular basis. Also, we’re playing multiple games so we’ll have one athlete and one partner together versus another athlete partner duo, so that’ll be really fun and interesting to see play out,” Gentilcore said. “I think that the game is going to be super exciting for a lot of our players, and there are multiple ways to play it, which make it even more accessible.”

This year, CHS will compete in a league with 15 or 16 schools. The season will last four to five weeks, ending in a playoff bracket where school teams will compete to win the State championship title.

Waikel said she is excited for this season to start so she can get involved with Unified sports once more.

She said, “I like participating in Unified sports because it allows me to meet so many new people at Carmel. I love how Unified sports allows everyone to be included no matter what. The partners and athletes involved in Unified sports (are) what make it so great.”