Idaho Falls School District 91 holds first ever esports tournament and kids love it - East Idaho News

Idaho Falls School District 91 holds first ever esports tournament and kids love it

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IDAHO FALLS — A local school district held its first ever esports tournament for students this year in order for them to gain skills, receive new opportunities, and of course, have fun.

Idaho Falls School District 91 has esports teams at Idaho Falls High School, Skyline High School, Compass Academy, Taylorview Middle School, and Eagle Rock Middle School.

Esports is extremely popular and draws massive audiences around the world. 

RELATED | Local high schools gather for first in-person esports tournament in eastern Idaho

It’s a form of competition using video games and 13-year-old Preston Allen says he loves being involved. He was a part of the newly created team at Eagle Rock Middle School.

Preston said he joined because he really likes video games and being around other people that have similar interests.

He’s played football, track and soccer and realizes that some people may not know what esports is all about.

“It’s a little different. Obviously, physical demand but other than that, it’s just basically the same. You just compete and there’s rules. Whoever wins, wins. Whoever loses, goes home,” he said.

He loved competing at the District 91 esports tournament on May 20 at Compass Academy. The games that were played were Super Smash Brothers, Rocket League, and League of Legends.

Preston Allen competing
Preston Allen competing at the tournament. | Courtesy Lisa Allen Photography

His parents came to cheer him on and he’s glad they encourage him. He said there are many opportunities within esports.

“Years ago, everyone just thought it was a joke. It’s just video games but now it’s an actual thing that people can do for a living,” Preston said. “Another reason why I joined was that if I started going through tournaments now, I could perhaps get a scholarship later on in life.”

Preston’s head coach for the esports team, Gericke Kohn, says students can actually get full ride scholarships by playing esports. He said when he found out the school was starting an esports team and his principal came to talk to him about it, he wanted to be a part of it right away.

Gericke and Preston
Gericke Kohn and Preston Allen. | Andrea Olson,

“I just wanted to do what I could to help because the opportunities through esports are just amazing nowadays,” Kohn said. “Colleges offer scholarships. We had one student from Skyline (High School) last year… he received a scholarship to go play at Boise so he’s on the Boise State esports team. There are scholarships (and) there’s prize money.”

Boise State esports partners with the Idaho Esports League, a league specifically for Idaho high school students. Click here to learn more.

video games
Andrea Olson,

“It’s becoming a legitimate career. I met a guy from Romania that plays League of Legends professionally and he moved from Romania to Spain to start up with a team,” Kohn explained.

And just like any other sport, Kohn said there are 11 starters and seven to eight alternates on his team at Eagle Rock Middle School. Everyone has a jersey and instead of the students last name on it, it’s their gamer tags. During the season, which lasts a few months, players will meet five days a week for two hours.

“For me, if you are in a sport, regardless if it’s esports or football, you show up and you practice,” he said.

He said esports and the tournament experience has been successful for the kids. The tournament was an all day affair with a large screen, parents cheering, and kids gaming and playing the best they could. They even brought home some trophies.

“What’s been amazing about this is that kids that have never competed… that have never been a part of a competitive activity because either they just don’t like it, they don’t feel like they are athletic, they got asthma or whatever the case is, they get to show up here and they get to be competitive and they really get to feel that drive,” Kohn said.

the trophies
The trophies at the tournament. | Courtesy D91

Next year, Kohn hopes to recruit some new kids coming to Eagle Rock Middle School. He said there will be some skills camps offered earlier in the year before the season starts in January.

As for Preston, when asked if he was going to be on the esports team next year, it was an easy answer.

“Definitely!” he exclaimed.

The Eagle Rock team
The Eagle Rock Middle School esports team. | Andrea Olson,