The Vernon Township High School eSports program recently won its first match, defeating James J. Ferris High School in Jersey City in a game of Rocket League.
The district’s program is led by Vincent Gagliostro, Matt Shea, and Anthony Vitrano.
Vitrano said the eSports club has 13 members, with five on the Rocket League team and two others on the Super Smash Bros. team. The remaining members are part of the program’s casual play and handle business aspects of the club.
The club participates in the Electronic Gaming Federation, which is a national league.
“We’re playing mainly New Jersey schools now,” Vitrano said. “That’s not to say in the future we won’t play schools in California.”
The league also has an annual national championship hosted by Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., although it won’t be held there this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It gives students to be part of a sport even if they aren’t an athlete at Vernon,” Vitrano said.
Like Vernon athletes, students in the eSports program follow strict academic eligibility guidelines for participation.
“We’re psyched to have it,” Vitrano said.
Board of education member Martin O’Donnell said the eSports market has grown substantially in recent years, from $1 billion in 2019 to an expected $3.2 billion by 2022, with gamers that make up to $1 million per year.
“I think this is a really great thing we’re doing for these kids who, like Anthony said, don’t get out onto the football field and don’t get out onto the band field,” O’Donnell said. “They’re doing what they love to do.”
“I think this is a really great thing we’re doing for these kids who don’t get out onto the football field and don’t get out onto the band field. They’re doing what they love to do.” Martin O’Donnell