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Tea Area High School makes its mark in the inaugural season and state tournament of esports

In the evolving landscape of competitive gaming, esports has moved beyond a mere pastime for teenagers. It has become a pathway to scholarships, lucrative careers, and now, a recognized high school sport. The recent surge in esports has propelled it onto the competitive forefront, and Tea Area High School has swiftly embraced this trend, becoming one of the first South Dakota High School schools participate in the newly sanctioned sport. 

The South Dakota High School Activities began exploring the addition of esports about four years ago because of popular demand, officially sanctioning it this year. Colleges also offer esports scholarships and have their own competitive teams. It has become a multibillion-dollar business with an estimated 3.26 billion people worldwide playing video games.

Under the mentorship of Coach John Schmidt, Tea Area High School’s esports team participated in the inaugural season of SDHSAA esports. Their season culminated in their participation in the first-ever High School State esports Tournament held at South Dakota State University in Brookings on March 22-23. 

With twenty high schools from South Dakota pioneering esports programs during the 2023-24 pilot season, Tea Area High School showcased its strength in games like League of Legends, Rocket League and Chess. 

The TAHS Rocket League team consisting of Zander Rimmer, Peyton Edmonds and Isaiah Rollman captured third place at State. Another TAHS Rocket League team, consisting of Brayden Cambier, Isaac Benally, and Dominic Bartscher took eighth place and the TAHS Rocket League Third Team of Zander Engel, Parker Angelo, and Benjamin Grunewaldt, captured 13th place at State. 

Tea Area’s League of Legends team consisting of Zander Rimmer, Henrick Rimmer, Kiarra Osterman, Vanessa Calling, and Jaxon Johanneson, captured seventh place at State and Tea Area’s Brayden Cambier took ninth in Chess and Jaxon Johanneson took eighth in Chess. 

“I believe that we have had a lot of success with our first year as a new activity. It provided another opportunity for students to be involved in an extracurricular activity. Esports, in particular, allowed many students to use their hobby of gaming to represent their school and compete against other students around the state,” said Coach Schmidt. “Through this program, our students learned teamwork, cooperation, and leadership skills. Like other activities, esports is a commitment, and I was very pleased to see the amount of work and excitement our students poured into this throughout the season. Even though we have just wrapped up our regular season, the students are already looking forward to future events and competing again in the future.”


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