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Getting Involved

Game on! Jordan High Esports Club is Off to a Great Start its First Season

Room G-101 at Jordan High has undergone an impressive transformation.

There are screens and high-tech equipment around, but it’s no longer a computer lab. The old monitors have been replaced by large TVs with modified hookups to video game systems, including the popular Nintendo Switch. Traditional classroom chairs have been replaced by sleek black-and-white gamer chairs.

This happening spot entertains a dozen or so students well after the final school bell rings — something you might expect in a cool, new hive for the school’s fledgling esports program that just started up this spring. On this particular day in May, there also happen to be snacks — chips, cookies, drinks — and a big poster on the largest wall to cheer on three of the new club’s best Super Smash Bros. players: Isander Garcia, Leo Jones and Jessie Rodriguez.

The varsity squad finished eighth in the state earlier this spring, and this talented junior varsity-level trio made it all the way to the final match of the Mountain Region Championship. The feat was especially impressive considering Garcia, Jones and Rodriguez came into the intermountain-area tournament ranked 16 out of the 16 teams that qualified.

“We’ve had a great season,” Jordan High esports coach Brandon Cressall said.

This Jordan team ended up in the finals against a squad from Timpanogos High, with the two teams each playing from inside their respective schools in Sandy and Orem. The hope is that they’ll be able to play in the same room and eliminate lag in the future, but that wasn’t possible this spring due to COVID-19.

Though Jones swept his opponent 3-0 in impressive fashion, the Timberwolves earned an overall 2-1 victory. Their final player, playing as the powerful Bowzer, was just too good on this day, even against Garcia’s Pikachu prowess.

“We barely got on this stage and we finished second. That’s real good,” Garcia said.

The Jordan team didn’t win it all, but that competition aside, they’re thankful to have an esports opportunity. Who’s going to complain about playing video games at school and getting congratulated and coached?

“It’s fun. You meet good people. You get to play this game,” Garcia said. “It’s really fun to share something in person with other people, especially when we’re playing this game.”

Cressall was thrilled when Jordan High’s athletic director and administration decided to begin this club, which allows students to practice and compete in games like Smash Bros., Rocket and League of Legends.

“It’s cool,” he said. “They now have a venue where they can see who they match up with and they can compete against other schools. I think it makes them feel more tied into the school.”

Jordan’s administration purchased all new gaming systems, controllers, games, TVs, and cushy chairs. Brighton High is the only other school in the Canyons District that has an esports program. Cressall is still pinching himself that his alma mater is now part of the gaming club.

“I grew up playing the first version of this game (Smash Bros.),” he said. “I went to Jordan. We would play this game all the time as soon as school was out. So many people play video games whether they’re going to admit it or not. It’s become such a part of culture.

“A lot of these kids aren’t interested in doing sports stuff, but they’re already playing something that takes skill, coordination, practice and dedication.”

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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