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Esports help Milwaukee students level up in ways you might not expect

Students returning to Milwaukee Public Schools for the new school year had a new activity waiting for them: esports.

Just like football or soccer, kids at around 30 schools will have the opportunity to join, practice and compete on teams that take on other squads from around the state. For this episode of Uniquely Milwaukee, host Salam Fatayer was nice enough to let me join her team and talk to people at every level of involvement with the esports initiative.

We start with Mike Dahle, president of the Wisconsin High School Esports Association, business education teacher at Elkhorn Area High School and a member of the Milwaukee Esports Alliance advisory board. This guy is a tireless advocate for esports and has been there for every stage of its very rapid growth in the state.

Milwaukee Rec Program Director Gabi Olemdo was up next to lend a more localized viewpoint. We caught him at Ronald Reagan High School — just one of the sites he’s helping set up with the gear they need to build a solid esports program. While we were there, we also got some time with sophomore Max Rzepka, whose very polished interview was concrete proof of the confidence and quick thinking that esports helps build in students.

Also, a quick shout to Davon Reed, the esports advisor at Reagan H.S. As a Uniquely Milwaukee rookie, my overeagerness resulted in a LOT of material to squeeze into 20 minutes, and we couldn't quite fit him in. But you'll hear Max talk about the welcoming atmosphere he's created around the school's esports program.

As a non-online gamer (or PvE, a term I learned while doing these interviews), there was plenty I didn’t know about competing online. So talking to these people who have esports in the very marrow of their being was incredibly illuminating. Whether you’re a gaming skeptic or ardent supporter, there’s something in this episode for you.

Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts. And make sure to subscribe, share, rate, review and all that good stuff that helps us tell more stories like these.