Learning Through Scholastic Esports: St. Clair College Esports and OFSEAPartner to Grow Scholastic
Partnership with St. Clair Saints Esports enables OFSEA to offer significant learning opportunities related to scholastic esports while expanding league and tournament play throughout Ontario
Esports are booming, and students in Ontario are excited not just to participate in esports events, but also to pursue related careers. To support this thirst for competition and education, St. Clair College Esports and the Ontario Federation of School Esports Associations (OFSEA) have partnered to help bring scholastic esports programs to schools across Ontario. As a teacher-founded, teacher-run volunteer organization, OFSEA works with various Ontario schools to connect educators with other experienced community pa
rtners in order to learn best practices in implementing scholastic esports programs.
Currently, esports is the biggest g
rowth sector within education, as well as one of the biggest income generating industries globally. According to Goldman Sachs, the global esports space is expected to exceed $3 billion in value with more than 550 million viewers worldwide by 2023, so it’s not surprising to see it expanding within education. “Capitalizing on this growth to engage and motivate students to learn the skills needed for future jobs is one of the primary goals of OFSEA,” said Matt Kovacs, OFSEA co-founder. OFSEA leverages a growing student interest in team-based competitive video gaming, offering meaningful career and STEM education alongside tournaments and league play. “We need to meet students where they are,” said Kovacs. “We are seeing an entire generation of young gamers in the classroom who have grown up online, as well as children who have found a passion for online gaming during lockdowns to fill the void left by the cancellation of traditional sports. Esports also provide an opportunity for a greater number of students who feel left out from the physical performance nature of traditional sports.”
Among other things, OFSEA provides schools with access to free tournaments, programs, curriculum, and expertise to help implement or develop scholastic esports programs, which combine competitive esports with academic programming to help students develop key skills, such as digital literacy, strategic thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, analysis, communication, teamwork and organization. In addition, students learn about possible career pathways, participate in creative and analytic challenges, and compete in tournaments in popular titles such as Rocket League, League of Legends, Fortnite, Chess, and Minecraft, to name a few.
While esports is relatively new at the elementary and secondary levels, collegiate esports programs are more established. Today, there are a growing number of universities and colleges that are offering full degree programs in esports, with many growing opportunities to work within the esports industry in direct gaming organizations, right through to events, esports teams and sports brands/clubs with an esports focus. St. Clair College is the first post-secondary institution in Canada to fully recognize and embrace esports with varsity teams and campus events. Similar to traditional athletics, collegiate players at St. Clair College earn scholarships to compete in video gaming leagues against colleges and universities all around North America. “We have state-of-the-art training facilities on campus and a dedicated staff of coaches that help our players perform at the highest possible level,” said Shaun Byrne, Esports Director at St. Clair College. “Our Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship Program prepares students to work in the exciting and interactive business of esports by learning practical business skills in sports management, media production, event management, entrepreneurship, team and league administration, and techno-marketing.”
“St. Clair has the best collegiate esports program in the country and one of the best in the world, so partnering with them was a no-brainer for us,” said Kovacs. “We’re excited about our partnership and we’re looking forward to enhancing the expertise and support that OFSEA currently provides in the area of scholastic esports by engaging even more students in programs across the province.”
About the Ontario Federation of School Esports Associations
The Ontario Federation of School Esports Associations (OFSEA) is focused on providing opportunities for all Ontario students to use esports as a platform to acquire STEM/STEAM-based skills and critical communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in work and in life. Find OFSEA at ofsea.org and on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
About the St. Clair Saints Varsity Esports Program
The St. Clair Saints Varsity Esports Program at St. Clair College was founded in 2017 and was the first of its kind in Canada. Teams at St. Clair are often ranked within the top 25 in North America and often are the best post secondary teams in Canada. The program provides a competitive gaming environment focused on education and player growth where students hone their skills with the help of faculty, coaches, and staff. Esports players at St. Clair are treated on par with their traditional athletics counterparts with scholarships, staff support, custom player gear, and state-of-the-art facilities.