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Esports interest expands to female students

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Esports is the newest competitive opportunity for students through the Alabama High School Sports Association.

Now in its second year competing, Chilton County Schools is seeing an increase in interest, including the county’s first female team members.

This season Thorsby and Maplesville high schools each have predominately female teams.

The Maplesville team competes playing the Rocket League video game, while Thorsby competes in Smite.

Rocket League is an arena-based game which is essentially soccer with flying cars instead of people.

Smite is a battle focused video game.

Trinity Rylee, a 10th grader at Maplesville, saw the team as a way to find a place to fit in.

The opportunity to compete against other schools also drew her to participate.

“I played a bit of Rocket League, and I found it easy for me to play,” Rylee said.

Rylee said she likes the “feel of the game” and figuring out the best strategy to score. She compared figuring out how to navigate the field to working an algorithm.

“Me and my sister, we play video games all the time and I thought it would be cool to play for the school,” Kayla Duncan, a 10th grader at Maplesville, said.

She said the team is mostly people she was already friends with, so she “feels comfortable playing with them and they kind of get what I’m going to do.”

Neither Rylee or Duncan had played Rocket League prior to their interest in the team. However, Duncan said the controls are very similar to games she plays at home.

The first match for the Maplesville team proved stressful as they tried to figure out how to work together.

Although the team has successfully scored some goals, they have yet to win a match this early in the season. The season only started a couple of weeks ago. Duncan hopes they can win at least one game in their inaugural season.

Rylee said she has enjoyed “being able to meet new people” with similar interests.

The team, which includes four girls and one boy, practices every chance the can get.

Esports coordinator Jay LeCroy said the Maplesville team has received a sponsorship from the U.S. Army to cover registration costs.

The Thorsby team also has four female students and one male student.

“I thought it would be a fun experience,” Brooke Edge of Thorsby said. “I’ve never done anything like it.”

Edge said the team had not had a lot of time to practice before the first competition and did not do well in it.

Edge said she enjoys playing video games and is looking forward to seeing how far the team can make it.