The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Dominating the Virtual Arena: How Head eSports Coach Alexandra Bak Trains Her Students

Wryn Duepre
Creek eSports coach Alexandra Bak talks about “Super Smash Bros” characters before her students begin a match. Bak coaches 12 separate video game teams in her position. Students appreciate her coaching style. “I love having [Ms. Bak] as the eSports coach, she brings a lot to eSports by helping us communicate and [working on our] teamwork,” senior varsity Mario Kart player Satia Baird said.

How difficult is it to be a coach? Your team’s entire success relies on keeping them motivated and happy, and making sure everyone knows their job and does it well.

For most coaches, they do this for just one or two teams.

For Alexandra Bak, biology teacher and head coach of Creek’s award-winning eSports program, those responsibilities have multiplied – since the start of the fall 2023 season; she has 12 teams that rely on her all at once.

Electronic sports (eSports) is an extracurricular activity where players compete in video games. According to the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), it falls under the same category as marching band and speech & debate, which are not recognized as an athletic activity, but it is still officially called a sport.

There are six games played competitively in Creek’s eSports program: “League of Legends,” “Rocket League,” “Overwatch,” “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate,” and “Splatoon 3.” Each game has between 1 – 3 teams, adding up to twelve in total. The program also has casual communities for other games, including “Minecraft” and “Fortnite.”

As of fall 2023, eSports has approximately 100 competing members, along with an additional 50 casual members in its Discord server. The club was founded and sponsored by Bak in her first year at Creek in 2018.

“We started with only 15 kids,” Bak said. “And before it was recognized as a competitive activity, it was a little club some kids wanted to start for fun. ‘League of Legends’ was the first competitive game we had at Creek, and it’s grown so much from just being a club.”

When it comes to coaching eSports, there is a greater emphasis on mental training than the physical training associated with traditional sports.

“[Video games are] a tremendous amount of strategy, communication, and teamwork. A lot of the skills that we build in eSports are very transferrable to the real world, and they help prepare students for college and career opportunities,” Bak said. “I’ve found that the reality of coaching eSports is that, almost always, the kids are better at the game than you are.” According to her players, this focus on strategy works.

“I love having [Ms. Bak] as the eSports coach, she brings a lot to eSports by helping us communicate and [working on our] teamwork… If it wasn’t for her, I personally think I would not have improved to be better as a person as much as I did with her,” senior Mario Kart varsity player Satia Baird said.

Bak takes pride in her ability to teach gamers tolerance and cooperation, to the point that by the time preseason is over, each team is almost entirely self-sufficient.

“Another big part of eSports is learning to be a good part of a team, even if you disagree with your teammates. Regardless of differences in opinion, you need to come together, be cohesive, work together [and] be able to compromise,” Bak said.

People not involved in the program often overlook the importance of mental skills when it comes to eSports, which leads to it not being taken seriously.

“To anyone who doesn’t think eSports requires as much talent as anything else,” Bak said, “I invite [you] to come play a game against one of our teams and see how [you] do.”

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About the Contributors
Lina Rakhmanova
Lina Rakhmanova, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Lina Rakhmanova and I'm a sophomore. This is my first year being a part of the USJ. Outside of school, I make art and I'm currently learning how to make animations. I was interested in journalism because it's a great way to connect with the community around me.
Wryn Duepre
Wryn Duepre, Chief Photographer
Hi, my name is Wryn and I am a senior! I am the Chief Photographer for the USJ and this is my second year doing so! I love writing, reading, and taking pictures. I am a freelance photographer in my spare time and I love teaching photography and creating impactful photos that tell stories!

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    Satia Baird | Nov 1, 2023 at 8:56 PM

    Hey that’s me talking about how great Ms.Bak is haha