Laker Esports Center to host first competition for high school students

High school esports teams from around West Michigan will be on the Allendale Campus April 23 for a competitive event that will also highlight other activities and opportunities at Grand Valley.

The Movement Science Showcase will host the competition in the recently opened Laker Esports Center in the Kirkhof Center. Organizers said about 60 participants from about a dozen high schools will be part of the competition.

Representatives from all three programs in the Movement Science Department will have a hand in the event, said Jon Coles, one of the event organizers and assistant professor of sport management.

Those from sport management are handling the operations of the tournament, while representatives from the exercise science as well as health and physical education programs will provide interactive games and physical activities for competitors who are between esports games, Coles said. Admissions will also offer campus tours to the high school students and will have information about Grand Valley available.



The Laker Esports Center seen from the outside. On the wall is the Grand Valley athletic logo and the words, Laker Esports Center.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

The work at this event falls in line with the objectives of all three Movement Science programs to promote physical and mental wellness in society, Coles said. And this event also helps reinforce for sport management students, in particular, the importance of esports in their industry, as esports has surpassed in popularity all major sports in America except for football, he added.

"We want to showcase the university and get prospective students on campus in an engaging, fun manner," Coles said. "We're also exploring an esports curriculum, so this will give us a chance to talk to prospective students and see what their interest level is in an esports curriculum."

This is the first time the Laker Esports Center has hosted a high school tournament, Coles said, noting this event also gives high school students, who generally compete remotely, a chance to compete face to face in a collegiate setting.

The teams will be playing in a Rocket League tournament, which is a popular three-on-three game played at both the high school and college level that can best be described as like soccer with cars, said Christopher Bilski, GVSU esports director.

Most of the players competing are from established high school high school programs, Bilski said. This event is an opportunity to recruit students to GVSU's team while also continuing efforts to partner with high schools on future competitive esports opportunities.

"It's a cool opportunity to connect with the local high schools and our esports program. One of our goals is to connect with the community, so I think this is an excellent opportunity to do that," Bilski said.