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Esports Club Rockets Ahead at Lindbergh High School

Oct. 28, 2021

A rocket-propelled car rolls through the air much like a fighter jet, with its aim to strike a massive ball into a goal to score points. That’s the premise of the video game Rocket League. The game is essentially like soccer, with two teams of three players competing against each other to score the most goals, albeit with flying cars instead of soccer players. The Lindbergh High School esports club is competing against high schools all across Missouri in Rocket League.

The esports club is in its first official season at LHS. Esports are multiplayer video games played competitively between two or more teams, or sometimes multiple players.

“It's been an awesome experience for the students,” coach Keith Loveless said. “They get to use 21st century skills, communication and collaboration. They compete against other schools.”

Loveless is the first year coach, but in his 17th year with Lindbergh Schools and serves as a Technology Support Specialist. Doug Barton, ARC Coordinator, serves as the junior varsity coach.

“I just had a conversation with my dad about esports,” Loveless said. “He wasn’t familiar with it. I told him that students play different video games as a team. In Rocket League, it's three players versus three players. Our varsity team has three starters that will play against three starters from another school online.”

LHS has a varsity and junior varsity team. The varsity team is currently 6-1 -- ranking No. 2 out of 38 teams -- and competes in the Missouri Scholastic Esports Federation (MOSEF). LHS students in the club can play against schools from as far west as Kansas City without leaving the high school.

“You compete on a computer from a classroom,” Loveless said. “It gets competitive. You have to have good communication and collaboration, with quick thinking skills and reactions.”

Getting the chance to compete is what drew LHS junior Gavin Edwards to joining the club. He is on the varsity team along with seniors Ethan Smith and Jack Kite. Tyler James, junior, even does live play-by-play announcing the team’s matches. All of the team’s matches are uploaded to the esports club’s YouTube channel.

“The club has allowed me to show people my skill level, as I’ve been playing this game for a few years now,” Edwards said.

The varsity team clinched a spot to play in the MOSEF Rocket League State Championship on Saturday, Nov. 13. The top eight teams in Missouri will compete in the single-elimination tournament at the St. Louis Science Center in the Omnimax Theater. The team has one match left in the regular season.

Loveless said he jumped on as coach because he enjoys video games and it’s a good mix with his technology background. That technology background includes assisting with the LHS copilot program, which allows students to serve as technicians and trainers to support student and staff use of technology. Members of the program earn hands-on experience by assisting Loveless with building and configuring the computers used by the esports club.

The club would love to expand to other games in the future, according to Loveless. Last year, the team competed unofficially in the spring semester in a Super Smash Bros. MOSEF league. That is a game made up of popular Nintendo characters like Mario and Luigi that fight against each other. 

Rocket League is rated “E” for everyone  and Super Smash Bros. rated “E 10+” for everyone ages 10 and older. Loveless said that students have to get a permission slip signed by parents or guardians in order to compete, no matter the game’s rating. 

But for now, the club’s focus is still on Rocket League.

“The ball bounces much more and creates different physics,” Loveless said. “It’s about timing and coordinating your moves correctly to score a goal or play defense.”