Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield High School to host Esports awards ceremony Saturday
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield High School will host the Second Annual Walter Day National High School and Collegiate Esports Award Ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The free event will start at 7 p.m. in the Fairfield High School Auditorium. It is being presented by the FHS Esports Club and International Video Game Hall of Fame. It is named after Walter Day, a Fairfield resident who started Twin Galaxies in 1981 in Ottumwa, an arcade that became famous for keeping a database of high scores for many video games.
John Grunwald, FHS Esports coordinator, said this year’s awards ceremony will honor Esports champions from not just Iowa but other states, too. In fact, this year’s ceremony will honor Esports champions from six states, and some of those Esports teams are planning to make the trip to Fairfield.
“I know a team is coming from six hours away in Random Lake, Wisconsin for this,” Grunwald said.
Grunwald said that he and Day started this awards ceremony as a way to “elevate and celebrate” the kids in Esports across the nation. Day has made a commemorative card, similar to a baseball card, for all the champions who will be honored Saturday.
“Each student gets their own card,” Grunwald said.
Day will be one of the featured speakers of the event, along with video game legend Billy Mitchell, who holds numerous records in the field. Grunwald said they’re bringing an “international ambassador of Esports” named Triforce Johnson of Jamaica, who holds 10 video game records in the Guinness Book of World Records.
In addition to the awards ceremony that night, the FHS Esports Club is also hosting a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament earlier that day, with registration at 9:30 a.m. and play beginning at 10 a.m. Grunwald said this tournament is open to people of all ages, including adults. The tournament will break for an hour for lunch, and should end at about 6 p.m.
Grunwald said Esports has taken off in the last couple of years, and is only going to get bigger. For instance, just three years ago, Fairfield had one of only 12 Esports clubs registered in Iowa, and today there are 85 schools involved.
“We started with six kids in the program, and now we have anywhere from 20-30,” Grunwald said. “We’ve been to playoffs seven times, and twice to the state tournament.”
Assisting Grunwald with coaching duties at FHS are Tyler Weseman, Darin Mahon, Michael Phelps, Colton Putnam and Connor Everright. Weseman said he’s looking forward to the ceremony to celebrate what the sport’s top players have accomplished.
Weseman said one of the benefits of an Esports club is to help students make friends with other students they wouldn’t normally socialize with. He said it shows them who shares their interests.
“It’s going to be really interesting in the next few years because we have a lot of seniors on the team, so we’ll want to get more freshmen and sophomores in here, so they have a bridge into the high school, and it doesn’t seem so scary,” Weseman said.
Kevin Dorothy, a senior on the FHS Esports Club, said the club’s success has changed the perception of video games in society. He said that he’s made new friends through the club.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this person is really cool once you get to know them,’” Dorothy said.
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