For Immediate Release — October 26, 2022 | Pacific
PACIFIC — October 26, 2022 — This November, DoDEA Pacific high schools will offer DoDEA’s first varsity esports program.
For the inaugural season, teams will play “Rocket League” in a round-robin schedule, with the best of seven matches winning each competition. For the season championship, teams will be seeded based on their season record and play a best of seven, single elimination bracket.
Esports is not new to DoDEA Pacific; during the Covid-19 pandemic, the region launched a pilot program with clubs at Humphreys, Kadena, Kubasaki, and M.C. Perry high schools.
“This all started in 2020 with esports clubs at some of our high schools,” said Todd Schlitz, DoDEA Pacific Chief of Staff. “Student extracurricular athletic and academic events were impacted by Covid-19, and esports was an activity we could safely offer with mitigation strategies in place.”
The pilot program was a success.
“Esports is an inclusive activity that appeals to many of our students,” Schlitz said. “It might not look like a traditional sport, but it requires many of the same skills. It takes practice, strategy, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork. Plus, there are opportunities for college scholarships and careers in eSports.”
An officially sanctioned high school sport, esports was recently named the fastest-growing high school sport by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“Student interest has driven the decision to transition esports from an afterschool club to a varsity sport,” said Tom McKinney, Far East Athletics Coordinator. “Esports will follow the same rules, regulations, and eligibility requirements as our other athletics programs.”
DoDEA Pacific’s varsity esports program would not be possible without its partnership with USO Indo-Pacific. USO Gaming is supporting DoDEA Pacific’s esports program with tournament creation and scheduling, graphics, and broadcasting a featured game of the week and the championship.
“During the 2021-2022 academic year, USO Indo-Pacific served over 7,600 teachers and students at 26 DoDEA Pacific schools,” said Scott Maskery, USO Indo-Pacific Regional Vice President. “USO Gaming support of the esports program provides another opportunity to positively impact military teens in the region. We look forward to this, and many more opportunities to collaborate with DoDEA Pacific in the coming year.”
The USO Gaming team has played an integral role in the successful implementation of the esports program, according to Schlitz.
“They are professionals in this field,” Schlitz said. “They have so much knowledge and experience in this area, and to have their support and the ability to tap into them as a resource has been phenomenal.”
The addition of a varsity sport requires an investment. For esports, that investment included 96 computers, 96 gaming mice, 96 controllers, 66 headsets, software and network configurations, and team jerseys, which have been distributed across the region’s 12 high schools in anticipation of the winter season.
“We are excited for the possibilities and opportunities esports will provide our military-connected students,” Schlitz said.