Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES is launching a program to leverage the appeal of esports for meaningful career education connected to regional and national video game tournaments.
The CA-BOCES Scholastic Esports League (CASEL) will be an affiliate of the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF).
The esports industry is booming, and students are excited to play in video game tournaments and to pursue related STEM careers. NASEF’s programs, curriculum and expertise are offered completely free to enable educators tap that student excitement for meaningful learning.
Through NASEF, students learn about possible career pathways, enter Beyond the Game creative and analytic challenges, manage clubs and events and fundraising — and, yes, compete in tournaments.
There is strong demand from schools to develop an official esports program, and Cattaraugus-Allegany leadership carefully evaluated options to provide students with a meaningful opportunity.
“When our component school districts asked us to help them get involved with esports, we weren’t really sure what we were getting into,” says Mary Morris, manager for student programs. “After a quick search, we found ourselves looking into HSEL and PlayVS. Honestly, if you just want to get involved with organized gaming, those leagues aren’t necessarily a bad choice; however, NASEF is so much more.”
Morris says that much like the overall approach at CA BOCES, NASEF is all about the student experience — and scholastic esports is the means.
“Whether we’re talking about the standards-aligned curriculum, the Beyond the Game challenges or the organized game play, we couldn’t be more excited about the affiliation between NASEF and (the CA BOCES league),” she says.
CASEL will kick off its affiliation by sharing NASEF scholastic esports curriculum with its 22 component school districts to help the formation of esports clubs. The Student Programs team will coordinate and schedule scrimmages and regular game matches for each season, and they plan to host regional tournaments in Rocket League and League of Legends and will include “Beyond the Game” challenges as well.
CASEL will support component school districts through an Esports Coach Forum with a regional coach provided by NASEF. They will also offer professional development to teachers in the region as they implement this novel esports scholastic curriculum.
Gerald Solomon, founder of NASEF and executive director of the Samueli Foundation, says scholastic esports offers a unique opportunity to reach students in the heart of their interests.
“We’re thrilled to extend our philanthropy and offer that same opportunity, at no cost, to students in the Cattaraugus-Allegany region,” he says.
CASEL has a roster of local leaders, including Morris, who will collaborate with NASEF to bring the program to schools and educators in its 22 districts. They are Tim Cox, assistant superintendent for instructional support services at CA BOCES; Jean Oliverio, arts and extracurricular events coordinator; Mark Beckwith, professional development and curriculum coordinator; and Sara Benjamin and Maggie Redmond, keyboard specialists.