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Starting an Esports Program by: Paul Reichenberger


I still remember the day I first learned about esports in public education. It was the spring of 2022 and I was at the ESSDACK Technology Integration PLC. Dr. Kristy Custer and Michael Russell from Generation Esports were presenting. From the moment they started sharing, I was hooked. After that day, I knew that I needed to start an esports program at McPherson Public Schools. Only one problem, I didn’t know where to start.


At the time, I was working at McPherson Middle School as a business teacher, with an emphasis on technology. I knew that I wanted to teach gaming concepts, an esports curriculum designed by Generation Esports, and bring the world of esports into my classroom. I requested a meeting with my principal and sold her on the idea of purchasing the middle school gaming concepts curriculum from Generation Esports for my classroom. I tried my hardest to let my passion come out in our conversation. She believed in me and supported me every step of the way during this journey. After getting her support, I need to write a curriculum proposal to our school’s curriculum council. I followed the necessary steps and presented in front of my fellow colleagues and administrators. They loved it and immediately saw the value in the program, despite my initial doubts and hesitations. Turns out, when you speak from the heart and are doing what is best for kids, people tend to listen. 


In the fall of 2022, I was able to teach gaming concepts in my middle school classroom. I decided to start my program by teaching gaming concepts first and then starting a competitive esports team second. Teaching the class was amazing. The middle schoolers loved the curriculum and really bought into the concepts that I was teaching. In the winter of 2022, I took the next step towards starting a competitive team. I worked with our supplemental committee and board of education to create a new salary position for an esports coach. I worked with my building principal when creating this proposal and got a position approved in the spring of 2023 for a paid coaching position for esports. Talk about a huge victory for the esports program! 


In the spring of 2023, I got a new job at McPherson High School as a high school business teacher. After getting this job, I knew that I needed an updated gaming lab. I knew that my school district wouldn’t buy me new computers but that they would support my needs in the best way possible. So over the summer of 2023, the school district’s technology team took the PC’s in my room and replaced them with computers from the drafting room, which were not currently being used. They updated the graphics card in each computer and now I have a working set of 20 PC’s my students can use during school in gaming concepts and after school for their practices and competitions. This was another huge step in creating our program and an example of how you can find creative solutions to a problem!


In the fall of 2023, the final step in creating the esports program at McPherson was finding an esports coach. I knew I couldn’t do it because I already coach year round, so I had to help my school’s athletic director find someone I could partner with. I knew this would be a difficult task, so I created a post on Facebook and many local community members. After a couple months, we were able to find a quality candidate, conducted an interview, and offered that person the job, which they accepted. This past winter, the coach held tryouts at McPherson High School for Rocket League, Apex Legends, and Super Smash Bros. We had over 20 students tryout! This spring, our high school team transitioned to playing Overwatch. They have two Overwatch teams and are very excited to begin the spring season. 


At McPherson High School, I am currently teaching gaming concepts. I love the content and it’s a true blessing to be able to teach this with students every day. None of this would have been possible without the constant support from Generation Esports. They have helped me and our esports coach countless times and answered many questions. The support they offer is second to none and I couldn’t recommend working with them more. If you are considering starting an esports program at your school, know that it is possible. If a young, passionate teacher in McPherson, Kansas was able to start a program, then you are more than capable of doing it yourself. Know that it won’t happen overnight, took me two and half years, but people are willing to support esports in public education because at the end of the day, it is beneficial to our students. 





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