We’re currently living through some unprecedented times. It’s been over a century since our world has been hit with a pandemic of this size, shutting down entire countries, and along with it the in-school education of our youth. 

As a result of what’s taken place, the team at NASEF has been working to ensure that we’re able to provide an environment for all students that’s safe, educational and fun. 

When you have millions of schoolchildren who’ve been sent home to complete the remainder of the school year via distance learning, it throws a wrench into scholastic esports. We’ve had to make a massive shift, but it’s been great to see our clubs move from Competition to Community. 

From Competition to Community

Each week, we’ve been hosting live streams on our Twitch channel with some of the best, talented minds in the scholastic esports community. Our team has put together programming for both students and educators. The feedback we’ve received has been incredibly positive!

We’re going to utilize this model to begin doing more activities with our students to help incorporate learning and gaming - so students can have fun while gaining new skills. 

How Are Students Coping? 

This week we connected with Vanessa F., a high school junior from Miami Lakes Educational Center in Miami, Florida to discuss what being a part of a NASEF club has helped her and fellow classmates cope with this unique time in history. 

“I haven’t been able to go to my clubs, which is something I’ve always looked forward to when I’m on campus. Since we have to stay at home, I haven’t been able to see my favorite teachers and friends, so it’s been more lonely. I have friends who are seniors, so I’ve missed seeing them. As a result, I’ve made it a habit to check with my clubs. Our esports club has a Discord server, so we’re checking in on a daily basis to see what we can do for each other.” 

We invite all of our club members to join NASEF's moderated Discord server for a couple of reasons. NASEF disseminates a lot of timely information on our Discord, and it gives both students and general managers a chance to connect with each other to exchange ideas or enjoy friendly banter with one another. 

Online Games Connect Students During Social Distancing

Another way that students are staying in community with each other during social distancing is by hosting collaborative gaming sessions online. 

“One of the games we’ve been playing is Animal Crossing on Switch. It’s a game where you start off living on an island with a couple other villagers. As the days go on, you build your shelter, expand your island and invite more people, customize your character and exchange things with people in an interactive way. It’s a really cute game, and I like it a lot,” said Vanessa. 

Another game Vanessa has been playing with her classmates has been Minecraft. She said, “Our club has been encouraging the artists and programmers in our group to get involved with building a world within Minecraft, because they can use their creative skills right inside of the game.” 

NASEF is currently sponsoring Minecraft COVID-19 Design Challenges where students can tap into their creativity! The Minecraft COVID-19 Challenges is a nation-wide competition for students in grades 3rd-12th. We’re looking for students who want to learn about and respond to issues related to the current global COVID-19 by creating solutions within Minecraft. 

Staying Focused During Distance Learning

Vanessa admits that it’s harder to stay focused with schoolwork while doing distance learning: “It can be awkward. We don't have the same connection with our teachers and friends while we’re doing school online. It can be a little stressful at times.” 

When asked how her students collaborate to better understand schoolwork, Vanessa explained that she and her classmates use text messages as a way to help each other. “I’m constantly getting notifications. There’s always something going on in the digital world. When I need to get work done, I’ll put my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and place it face down so that I can focus on my schoolwork,” she said. 

Caring for Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Both parents and students have felt what it’s like to be cooped up inside your home for extended periods of time. When discussing how she cares for her physical and mental wellbeing, Vanessa said “I know it’s important to let myself take breaks because without breaks I know I’ll get burnt out... Staying inside all day isn’t good for you, so even taking work outside for a little while is important so that you can get sunshine. Taking care of yourself is the #1 priority.” 

NASEF has focused a lot of resources on teaching our students healthy habits for caring for their minds and bodies. On our Community Club streams, we’ve had guests like Haylesh Patel, UC Irvine Esports’ in-house physiologist on to discuss insights, examples and strategies on how esports athletes, club members, coaches, general managers take care of their bodies and minds. We encourage you to regularly discuss these habits so they become as routine as powering on a computer or gaming console. 

NASEF is More than Scholastic Esports: It’s a Community

One of the recurring themes that we’ve noticed is how much NASEF has risen together as a community. This isn’t just about scholastic esports. It’s been about relationships, and supporting each other during a difficult time. 

“Communicate with others right now. It’s vital,” said Vanessa. She added, “Whether it’s texting, getting onto Discord, posting on Instagram or other social media, being in touch with my friends and my club have been helpful to keeping me connected with others.

When she’s not deep in advanced placement classes, her esports club, and spending time with friends, Vanessa works as a staff writer and Tik Tok manager for her school’s newspaper, The Harbinger. 

NASEF has become a shining example of what scholastic esports can look like due to the hard work put in by our staff, sponsoring organizations, general managers, and wonderful students like Vanessa!