Cougar Esports Continues to Thrive Despite Distance Learning

One of the most popular clubs at EV continues to grow despite challenges facing clubs with the transition to online learning.


Bennett Nguyen

A club photo taken by Cougar Esports in 2019, before the pandemic would end most in-school gatherings and activities. Since COVID-19 restrictions began, Cougar Esports has been adapting and thriving in new conditions.

Luca Dhagat and Leka Ekambaram

At the beginning of the last school year, a new club was started at Evergreen Valley High School. Made by a small group of friends who were inspired by famous competitive esports players, Cougar Esports gained a jaw-dropping amount of popularity across the school as the year went on. 

In the club, teams, which were split by game, would engage in video game competitions. For example, there would be a Cougar Esports Minecraft team and a CS: GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) team. These teams would even do competitions with other Minecraft or CS: GO teams from different schools, much like sports teams would do. 

Cougar Esports is now one of the most popular clubs in Evergreen Valley High School as the club embraces recent and mainstream games like Valorant and League of Legends. A large number of students are skilled in these video games and are now able to hone their abilities in Cougar ESports. 

“Cougar Esports was already looking to be one of the largest and most popular clubs on campus despite only being in its first year due to the fact that so many students shared a common passion and interest for video games, regardless of how competitive and skilled they were individually,” Vice President Tien Tran noted, explaining their growth in popularity.

The club members would gather after school and practice their skills for tournaments last year. After distance learning started, however, the club has undergone important changes. 

Discord has always been the club’s main way of communicating, but now it’s been their mainstream interacting platform. Of course, the club did meet up for Zoom meetings at times, but most of the action happened on the club’s Discord server, as well as their Twitch streams, which are worth a look-see.

For major in-person school events such as Homecoming and BOTC (Battle of the Classes), EVHS has had to adapt to COVID safety standards, meaning that these events have gone from offline to online. Cougar ESports has been invited to host esports tournaments as entertainment for such school events. Tien Tran later remarked that, “[this] was met with overwhelming support and success as we hosted tournaments across Minecraft, League of Legends, and Super Smash Bros.”

Esports Director Keith Lee said, “Events like our tournaments, homecoming, and BOTC have helped us in recruiting new members.”

It is nearly impossible, even in the COVID-19 era, to not have heard of Cougar ESports at least once in the new year. The advertising platforms Cougar ESports uses include major fundraisers as well as putting advertisements in places like Schoolloop, Facebook, and in the EV School News. This may have been a deciding factor in the overwhelming growth of this new club as well as word-of-mouth and school events like BOTC. 

Despite an impressive feat of activity, the difficulties posed by distance learning have definitely had an effect. Esports Director Keith Le noted how the inability to meet in person made it harder for newer members to get involved with the club’s various teams: “Although our members who are part of our teams are participating and interacting with the club consistently, our many other members haven’t had the opportunity to interact with the club overall.” However, the many events Esports has held over the year have helped bring in new members and keep the club growing.

For most clubs at EV,  the inability of in-person gatherings has severely hampered their ability to conduct normal club activities. This, combined with the increased academic stress that has become all too well known with distance learning, has made it harder for clubs to grow and attract new members.

Esports stands as one of the few examples of clubs that have been able to defy this trend. Despite some difficulty in helping members adapt, the club has remained one of the most active at EV. Although this can be explained partly by how Esports had already conducted most club activities online even before the pandemic, the dedication from both members and officers alike has been the deciding factor.  

The general mood throughout the club remains one of excitement and interest in club activities, despite the challenges posed by distance learning. The officer team remains optimistic and prepared for the future. “We have lots of surprises and events in mind for the upcoming future, one of them being soon, so keep an eye out for our announcements,” commented Director Kieth Le about Esports’ upcoming plans.