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Washington High School may launch esports team

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Washington High School may launch esports team


New London students compete in a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament, where they’re one of many schools starting dedicated esports programs. (Photo courtesy of Cori Reid)

WASHINGTON — School officials widely expressed optimism about the prospect of a high school esports team, despite several questions about the logistics of such a newly conceived extracurricular activity.

At a Washington school board meeting Wednesday night, District Activities Director Nathan Miller said a poll of high school students and incoming freshman showed 33 kids interested in joining such a team next year.

Of those, he said the “vast majority” were not involved in any of the school’s other activity rosters. That makes it an ideal way to get kids involved who might otherwise not make such connections.

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“One of the main goals that I’m looking at, as activities director, is how do we engage more kids within our school,” Miller said. “This is an opportunity where we could engage kids in something else we don’t currently have, that may meet a clientele that would love to be part of a group or activity.”

The competitive video game scene is a somewhat new concept, as far as school activities go, but those involved say it’s growing fast. Much like with traditional sports, students would try out for the team, compete in divisions based on experience, and seek to bring home trophies for their school at tournaments.

Also like other school activities, members would need to maintain passing grades to compete, and come to class in order to attend practice. Washington would be the fourth school in its conference to establish an esports roster.

Competitions are not only a source of entertainment for viewers. Schools say they’re a wellspring of scholarships and academic achievement for students.

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Fairfield senior Carter Stutzman made headlines in April, when he signed on to Northwestern College’s Rocket League Team, where he’ll play the viral “vehicular soccer” game. And in November, New London’s esports team qualified for states, where they played Nintendo-produced fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the mythology-inspired arena title SMITE.

“I actually sat in on an esports presentation … and there’s more scholarship money available in colleges than they can give out right now,” Miller said. “This is something that could not only impact our kids now, with a connection to school, it could provide avenues and opportunities after high school.”

From right, Fairfield High School Esports Club members Izayah Diehl, Kevin Dorothy and Antonio Manning practice in the school’s Esports room. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

From right, Fairfield High School Esports Club members Izayah Diehl, Kevin Dorothy and Antonio Manning practice in the school’s Esports room. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

The activity is sanctioned by the Iowa High School Esports Association. Miller said Washington would start competing in Super Smash Bros. in the fall, and Mario Kart in the spring, but not participate in other events or in the winter season, at least at first.

Instead, he said the school would stick to online tournaments in its first year, rather than traveling to distant venues. Startup costs would include four Nintendo Switch consoles, high-end controllers, subscriptions to Nintendo Switch Online — a service required to access multiplayer features in the games — and paid coaching positions in the fall and spring.

The activities director said the team would likely raise funds through events and local business sponsorships.

“There are events, eventually, that we could travel to,” Miller said. “There is actually a kid in our high school who is one of the top 10 or 15 players in our country for Fortnite … but we’re not going to go to these big tournaments if we’re just going to get stomped on at first. That’s why we want to start small.”

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More out of curiosity than skepticism, school board members had several questions for Miller about the activity. Things like, “what does an esports practice look like,” and “how is it coached?”

With a vote on the proposed program expected next month, Board President Troy Suchan said he was excited about its prospects

“It’s another way to get another subgroup involved, same as when we started archery,” he said. “It’s getting people involved, making them feel like they’re part of the school.”

Comments: Kalen.McCain@southeastiowaunion.com

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Washington, D.C. wants to host the 2027 NFL draft

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Washington, D.C. wants to host the 2027 NFL draft


Competition is growing among NFL cities to host the draft, and Washington, D.C. is throwing its hat in the ring.

The Commanders and D.C. officials want the 2027 NFL draft, according to the Washington Post. If another city wins the bidding for 2027, Washington would likely continue competing for a future draft.

It’s unknown where the major draft activities would be in the nation’s capital, but the National Mall is one possibility. The draft has drawn hundreds of thousands of people every year since the NFL turned it into a traveling roadshow in 2015, and Detroit had an estimated 775,000 visitors for the three-day event this year, making it the most-attended draft ever.

After decades as a relatively small event in New York City, the league has turned the draft into a major event that cities across the country vie to host in hopes of bringing in significant tourism revenue. Officials in Detroit said the draft weekend brought in more hotel revenue than any event in the city’s history.

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The 2025 draft will take place in Green Bay and the 2026 draft will take place in Pittsburgh.





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Perspective | A final column from someone who has seen the power of local journalism

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Perspective | A final column from someone who has seen the power of local journalism


When I heard that dozens, then hundreds, of packages were being dropped off at a home in Northern Virginia, I knew who sent them: You.

“An ENTIRE AMAZON TRUCK just arrived for the Little Yellow Free Pantry,” Susan Thompson-Gaines wrote me at one point.

After that delivery driver left, another pulled up, then another, until at one point, more than 350 packages filled her house. In those boxes were enough jars and cans and other containers of food to keep the neighborhood pantry outside her home stocked for a long while. Also in them: notes that made it clear those packages were in honor of a mysterious donor I had told you about in a column.



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Washington Nationals news & notes: MacKenzie Gore Ks 8 in seven strong; Nats beat Mariners, 6-1 in series opener…

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Washington Nationals news & notes: MacKenzie Gore Ks 8 in seven strong; Nats beat Mariners, 6-1 in series opener…


GORE STRIKES OUT 8 IN 7 IP:

MacKenzie Gore gave up a leadoff home run on the second pitch he threw in last night’s game, a 97.1 MPH fastball J.P. Crawford hit 399 ft. to center field to start the series in the nation’s capital. It was the only run, and one of just four hits, which Gore allowed overall, going seven strong in the start, which ended up being a seven-inning, 98-pitch outing in which he struck out eight and walked just one batter.

Nationals’ batters provided plenty of support for their starter, with Luis García, Jr. hitting a three-run home run in the fourth, Keibert Ruiz hitting a two-run home run in the sixth, and finally Eddie Rosario homering in the eighth as Washington ran away with the first of three against Seattle in Washington, D.C.

Gore gave up a two-out single in the second, a two-out walk in the third, a leadoff single in the sixth, and another one in the seventh, but stranded all four runners to reach base after the homer, generating 17 swinging and 18 called strikes on the night, with eight whiffs and 10 called strikes on his four-seamer, which he threw 55% of the time, averaging 96.9 MPH on the pitch, and mixing in his curve (26%; 6 whiffs, 5 called strikes), changeup (10%, 2/2), and slider (9%; 1/1).

The Nationals’ southpaw talked after the latest turn in the rotation about moving on quickly after the leadoff home run.

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“You never want to lead off a game with a homer, but just [focus on] the next guy,” Gore told reporters after earning his 3rd win (3-4, 3.04 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 2.87 BB/9, 10.46 K/9, 0.84 HR/9 in 53 13 IP), as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato.

“What had happened had happened,” he said.

“After that [home run], he controlled the game really good,” catcher Keibert Ruiz said after guiding the lefty through his outing. “He executed the plan.”

“You hope that it is [a long outing]; you hope that things don’t blow up,” Davey Martinez said in his own postgame presser:

“But as he got to that fourth inning and I’m watching his pitch count, I’m watching what he’s doing, I thought then that he can go deep in this game, which would be great. And he did. Going seven innings is really good, especially for our bullpen. We’ve got a lot of games coming up, so we’re going to need our starting pitchers to go a little deeper in games.”

“He was attacking the strike zone,” Martinez said when asked what was working for his left-handed starter.

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“He got early outs. He pitched really, really well. I mean, his fastball was electric. He threw breaking balls when he needed to, but he really worked ahead.”

Gore’s curve was particularly effective late in the outing, the manager said.

“He started getting through it a little bit better later in the game. That sometimes happens when he gets a little tired, that you’re able to focus and get the ball down a little bit better, but a lot of times the fastballs will tend to creep up, and the breaking balls will tend to go down a little bit. That last pitch he threw was phenomenal.”

The final pitch was a 3-2 curve to Jorge Polanco which got the Mariners’ infielder swinging for the eight strikeout of the night for the Nationals’ starter.

“After throwing two fastballs, throwing a curveball like that was pretty good.”

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