DD2 to create esports arenas to further job opportunities for students

Dorchester School District Two says they’re building three new esports arenas at their high schools to give their students more opportunities for future jobs.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 4:12 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 8:23 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester School District Two says they’re building three new esports arenas at their high schools to give their students more opportunities for future jobs.

Executive Director of Special Programs Dr. Greg Harrison said they saw high demand from students who started their own clubs after school.

“We found out as the school year started, they were already starting clubs,” he said. “They were competing at home. They were doing things, and it wasn’t tied together neatly, so we wanted to make sure we provided that arena atmosphere.”

Harrison said esports is a billion-dollar industry with a growing number of jobs, scholarships and opportunities out of high school.

Call of Duty Social Community Manager Dex Badgett turned his passion into a career at Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s largest game publishers.

“I was doing like Twitch livestreaming. I was creating YouTube content,” Badgett said. “I would upload YouTube videos of me playing Call of Duty, talking to an audience, talking to viewers that might be watching me, and I learned to build a brand around that.”

The district has released several renderings of how the arenas at Summerville, Ashley Ridge and Fort Dorchester high schools could look once they are built.

The largest arena will be at Fort Dorchester High School. Harrison said it will hold double the number of computers compared to the other high schools, could host community tournaments and are working with Boeing on advanced flight simulators for students in the JROTC program.

“Once folks see that it is something that can provide so much opportunity for our students, it’s just going to open the door so as to better serve many students,” Harrison said.

Harrison said they’re using around $300,000 in grants for the project. Each arena costs anywhere between $60,000 to $70,000 to build.

“It also ties in with our media tech programs because the esports games are broadcast, and you have announcers that announce the games,” Harrison said. “It ties into multiple areas in our CTE programs. It also ties into our computer/IT pathway as well. Students are programming, testing games out and basically getting that experience.”

Students in the Career & Technology Education program or esports clubs will have access to these arenas, but it could be open during lunch periods for students to check out.

Harrison said they need to support students in esports because of the growing number of jobs and scholarships available out of high school.

“Specifically for them, I think it’s awesome,” Badgett said. “There’s so many things that you can learn similar to traditional sports. Gaming can provide structure and allow them to learn troubleshooting, strategy, teamwork, communication -- all these different things that are similar to like baseball players may learn or someone that’s in gymnastics or anything like that.”

Eventually, the district said they foresee holding tryouts for students to get on teams for certain game titles, so they can compete in the district and across the state.

“As long as there’s like balance in their life, in their curriculum and their family, the same way you would have with normal sports, I think it’s a win all around,” Badgett said.

The district said the arenas at Summerville and Ashley Ridge high schools could be open in June.

The arena at Fort Dorchester should be ready to open when the media center is completed next year.