New Westmoore Esports Club Already Bringing Home Awards
- High School
- Westmoore High School
Sophomore Annan Karim met with w WHS Principal Danny Reed to discuss his vision and the Westmoore Esports Club was founded and they're already experiencing big wins.
Gamers have known for decades what many are just learning: the world of esports cannot be ignored. And more recently, where large tournament purses and significant college scholarships are concerned, people are talking about and weighing the possibilities of esports. A perfect example is the 2021 collegiate championship prize pool for League of Legends which was $190,000.
Moore Public Schools is home to more than 24,500 students and among that number is a sizable audience of active gamers. The rise of smartphones, laptops, tablets and handheld devices like the Nintendo Switch has made gaming on the go even more accessible, without a need for desktop setups. Still, gamers have known what many in education are only just beginning to embrace: gaming is just as much about community as it is about the games.
Westmoore High School sophomore Annan Karim has been gaming for as long as he can remember. He is a member of the WHS leadership class and has been active in working on the districtwide philanthropic project, Moore Love over the past two years. He also works part-time at his family’s restaurant, Spazio Ristorante, located at SW 104th and S. Penn Ave.
Even more impressive is that in early 2022 - while still a freshman and through online gaming - Karim connected with the University of Oklahoma’s Esports & Co-Curricular Innovation Director Mike Aguilar. He wanted to know how he could start his own esports club at WHS, took his advice, got to work and has found big success.
Once school started last August, Karim met with new WHS Principal Danny Reed to discuss his vision for an esports club. With Reed’s encouragement and even a bit of activity money to get started, the Westmoore Esports Club was founded.
“I wanted to leave my mark on WHS and create a program that can be self-sufficient and another great tradition at Westmoore. I hope to bring students together through a community of mutual interest and through competition in professional tournaments. I also hope students gain a ‘mental break’ from school and see esports as an open and welcoming space,” Karim said.
Karim began working to pinpoint potential donors and sponsors to begin the work of securing gaming systems. The games the teams will compete in include League of Legends, Madden, Rocket League, Smash Bros., Mario Kart, Fortnite and more. After just a few months, Karim held the inaugural WHS Esports Club meeting in October with 82 students attending and as of December they have 123 members.
“Those are numbers an education institution can’t ignore,” said Aguilar. “I’m impressed with Annan's work and how he’s building Westmoore’s esports community and I can’t wait to see how this program will grow.
“And of course, OU is interested to see how esports will flourish at a large district like MPS because we’re right here as a pipeline for continued education in degree programs that are looking to add curriculum related to esports like business, journalism, broadcast comms, sports marketing, visual comms and so many more.”
In fact, more colleges jump into the esports arena every semester and many offer substantial scholarships. The unique thing about esports is that there are as many scholarships for the career side of making the industry work as there are for those who earn spots on gaming teams.
In October, the WHS Esports team participated in an Oklahoma eSports League (OeSL) tournament and qualifier for State competition that was held at Southmoore High School. Sophomore Jonah Bond and junior Trevor Walmsley took 3rd Place and senior Jason Hunt and junior Isaiah Reid took 6th Place. It was an impressive showing as a first for MPS, with 13 school districts in attendance and 48 teams. Each district could bring one to five gaming teams. At the recent State competition, Bond and Walmsley took 5th Place.
Impressed with Annan’s energy and results in establishing the WHS Esports Club, Oklahoma Scholastic Esports (OKSE) provided the group with an annual membership. For now, WHS Esports looks to register for more tournaments as they continue to gain members, sponsors and momentum.
“My hope for WHS Esports members is that they go on to collegiate esports programs and realize all they gained from our program. Esports can truly unite people through teamwork, leadership and communication. It's amazing to see people who have never met work together and strive for a common goal within a videogame,” said Karim.
WHS Esports club is led by Karim, president and founder; sophomores Alissa Vu, VP; Henry Hong, secretary, Yein Kim, graphic designer; Anh Nguyen, historian; Caysey Tran, public relations and senior Anthony Vuong, treasurer. The WHS teacher sponsors are Dale Ellen, Sharee Ferguson and Connor McCain.