Grayling High School Esports program looks to build on first year success

GHS joins list of schools competing via video games as Esports popularity increases in the state
Grayling High School offered Esports (video game competition) for the first time during the recently ended 2022-2023 school year, and the program is looking forward to growing as Esports continue to increase in popularity.
“This is our first year competing in Esports at GHS,” said Grayling High School teacher and Esports coach Jordan Kulhanek. “Actually had an admin approach me to start the program, since there was a growing interest in starting Esports teams through the Michigan Association of Secondary Principals. It has been exploding across the state, so we wanted to join in as well.”
“We feel a bit late in the game, but are excited to have gotten on board when we did,” Kulhanek said.
Kulhanek said Esports takes video games – “something that is stereotyped as being isolationist” – and offers it in a “school environment” and “promotes cooperation and socialization in a group setting.”
“It brings another interest into the school for students who see themselves as less athletic and still want to engage on a school team,” Kulhanek said. “We had 17 players enrolled this year, though many students played during the after-school non-competitive club sessions. This number is a combination of both male and female players.”
Kulhanek said Michigan Esports includes games on multiple systems, including Nintendo Switch, XBox, and Playstation. According to Kulhanek, the Grayling High School Esports group “officially competed in Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers against other schools in Michigan” this year.
“We played Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers on the Nintendo Switch this year, but Michigan Esports also offers games like Splatoon 3 on the Switch.  Playstation and XBox games are also offered like NBA 2K, League of Legends, Rocket League, Madden NFL 23, and Hearthstone. New games also are added each year,” Kulhanek said.
“So far, each competition we have played in has been a 1V1. We have groups of three or four students on a team, and they compete against another school. Seasonal play takes place online, and we meet/discuss with opposing coaches and players in an online gaming platform called PlayVs,” Kulhanek said. “Like a traditional sports season, all games are scored and go into an overall bracket. At the end of a season, all teams get placed into a single elimination bracket, which will result in an in-person championship downstate.”
The Grayling High School Esports program enjoyed success during its inaugural campaigns in 2022-2023, and the group is looking to improve as it moves forward.
“Our Mario Kart team is awesome, and we were even ranked 21st out of 220 teams halfway through the season,” Kulhanek said. “There are over 200 Super Smash teams in Michigan alone. We are excited to be ranked in the top 60 as a first year. Many of these teams have already competed multiple years, and we hope to pull farther ahead as we gain more experience.”
Kulhanek said the Grayling Esports program participated in fall and spring seasons this past school year that lasted approximately 2.5 months. The program used the choir room at the school for game club and Esports, but now the group is looking to have its own dedicated space for the 2023-2024 school year.
“We have recently acquired our own official room at the high school; we are excited to design and start working on it over the summer,” Kulhanek said.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

Comment Here