For St. Ansgar senior Joshua Staley. being a pro or even semipro gamer was just a childhood dream.
However, Staley worked hard to turn those dreams into a reality, and has recently signed a letter of intent to play Rocket League at Hawkey Community College next fall. He was also the recipient of the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors High School Player of the Month award.
Staley’s dream started when he got his first Xbox gaming console three years ago. He’d been watching videos of Rocket League game play for a couple of years, Right away, he dedicated his life to the practice.
“I was excruciatingly far from even being considered good,” Staley said. “Then, half a year ago when I was playing subpar, I really focusd on how to get better.”
Staley sought help in improving his passion of gaming, and looked to a professional coach, as well as his brother for help. He went on to start Atomic Ice Gaming, a semi-pro gaming team.
When Esports was introduced at St. Ansgar, Staley didn’t waste any time jumping on board.
“Although our season this year wasn’t all that good, it’s the experience that matters the most,” Staley said.
He explained that the Esports program has helped its members learn to communicate with other people that they normally wouldn’t see eye to eye with.
“This was also a really great leadership opportunity for me to focus on coaching and helping new players out. If it weren’t for Esports, I would never have so much recognitition for the amount of time I spent a day playing as I did prior.”
Staley’s dedication to his growth as a gamer has certainly paid off, since he’s received scholarship offers from several schools. Without the Esports program, his pro gaming dream would have remained just that: a dream.
“Esports is a really good tool for kids who wouldn’t normally be involved in extracurricular activities. Being involved really affected my mental health in a good way. I wasn’t the best when it came to school and my grades can back that up, but this year I’ve received two B Honor Rolls.
“This improvement can show how well Esports really affects our academics and our mental health, both of which are what all schools should strive for.”
Esports Director Brian Birkedal said that Staley has been a great leader in the new program. “He has been very encouraging of his teammates, and has done a good job helping the whole team improve,” said Birkedal. “He is also very talented, and has shown to be one of the best players in our league.”
Staley was excited to sign his letter of intent, and said that he was in shock when he was deemed player of the month.
“I thought it must’ve been a mistake, but my eyes didn’t deceive me,” he recalled. “I looked into what it meant and it made me smile so hard. I never knew that my actions were noted by other people.”
Staley described the feeling of having people notice the effort he put in to making the team better as “by far the best feeling to be had.”
“Having coaches who really care for the team and also dedicate their time to learn so much about the games our esports team offer is tremendous!” said Staley, “and I seriously can’t thank them enough for their hard work!”
The St. Ansgar Esports team will hold their third remote League of Legends match on Monday, April 6, against Newman High School. The match can be watched on the team’s Youtube channel.