Jan. 28—A new extra-curricular activity is offering students another option to further their careers.

The News-Capital recently interviewed McAlester High School STEM teacher and esports coach Amy Shaw about how the young program offers students a fun activity with options for future career paths.

McAlester started its esports program two years ago and it hoping to soon host its first-ever state qualifier among more than 150 schools participating in OKSE — which regulates gameplay and tournaments, and sets academic standards for students to be eligible to participate.

Shaw said esports provided motivation for some students who might have previously struggled academically without an extracurricular activity.

“It’s given students a purpose to stay in school and stay driven because there are so many careers within this,” Shaw said.

“You can do anything within this realm,” she added. “There’s so many different things you can do — and you can make a lot of money doing it.”

Esports can lead students to pursue careers in a bevy of areas like game design, game management, facility planning, event management, esport business consulting, and more. The gaming industry also hires sales representatives, software engineers, communications specialists, content producer, managers, reporters and more.

Zip Recruiter shows the esports average salary is $65,307, with salaries ranging from $37,000 to $127,000 depending on job market, skill level and work experience.

This is a great option for students interested in gaming and looking to make it a career.

McAlester is already seeing success in esports, with Ralph Pardillo already qualifying for the state tournament in Super Smash Bros.

Pardillo moved to McAlester from Washington and said the esports team interested him after looking to join clubs for chess and other areas of his interests.

He said Super Smash Bros. is one of his favorite games and that enticed him to sign up for the elective course.

“It’s tons of fun,” Pardillo said. “We help each other out every day and it’s just a great time.”

McAlester gamers recently competed in a qualifier online with their teammates on the other side of the glass at the esports room showing their support. After the match, they shared tips from what they saw and how the players could keep moving forward in pursuit of the goal to qualify for the state tournament.

Esports provides more options for a greater variety of students to pursue careers, but it also teaches key life skills in problem solving, teamwork and more.

We’re glad to see the program take off in McAlester and in the surrounding area and look forward to what new heights students can reach.

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