Gaming at State

Conestoga Esports Team Gets Second Place at State Tournament


John McConnell

Members of Conestoga’s esports team practice playing Mario Kart before a match

Murray, Neb.-Conestoga’s newly founded esports team has risen to success in their first ever active season. Coached by Jacob Belvery, they were able to achieve a second place ranking at the state competition for Mario Kart.

Esports works differently than other sports and activities. Instead of having one season a year, esports has fall, winter and spring seasons. Belvery stated, “In the fall, they play Rocket League, Hearthstone and Overwatch. In the winter: Mario Kart. In the Spring, it’s Super Smash Brothers, Smite and StarCraft.”

Belvery is new to Conestoga this year and became the coach after Principal Robert Geise reached out to him about it. Starting the new activity has come with some difficulties. “There’s a steep learning curve,” Belvery said.

They have also faced the problem of limited funding. Currently, the Conestoga esports program relies on students volunteering their own personal consoles, controllers and games for practices. “[One student] brings his switch, but if [he] suddenly decided he doesn’t want to play esports anymore, we don’t have that equipment. So we would just essentially be stuck and unable to play.” He said he’s hoping to be able to get at least one or two Nintendo Switches either through donations or working concessions at games to raise money.

Despite the difficulties, they managed to have a productive first season in winter. They came out with victories against Centennial and Ord in their first and second weeks respectively.

However, they didn’t stop there. They went all the way to the state competition. “After seeing our first few competitions, I definitely knew that the team we had was good and that we could definitely make it far,” said one esports member, Daniel Cutler. “I didn’t initially think state, but then, when I saw we were getting closer, I was like, ‘Yeah. I think we can do it.’” When they did make it into the final round of the state tournament against Winnebego, it was a close match. Belvery said, “It came down to the last lap on the last race.”

Esports has managed to achieve great success in a short amount of time. They’ve proven that Conestoga can be competitive and bring home some victories. Now, we’ll get to see what the spring has to offer as they compete in Super Smash Bros, StarCraft and Smite.