Esports program expanding to middle schools across Minnesota

An esports program will soon be coming to middle schools across Minnesota.

“The home for Minnesota high school esports” — the Minnesota Varsity League (MNVL) — announced the start of the MNVL Jr. scholastic esports program on Wednesday.

The program aims to advance the esports experience for students by stimulating competition while encouraging education, according to a news release from MNVL.

“We are thrilled to expand our mission by providing this first-of-its-kind academic esports program for Minnesota middle schools. This initiative has always been a goal that has received nothing but support from the community. Not only does it align with the interests of our students, but it also underscores our commitment to fostering 21st-century skills that serve as a foundational stepping stone, creating a clear pathway for students to continue their esports journey into high school and beyond,” said Jake Utilities, Director of MNVL.

The program format will be modeled after the established high school program, which launched in 2019, by focusing on fifth through eighth graders competing in Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers, chess, and Minecraft.

More than 82 high schools in the state participate in esports and the MNVL has garnered 2,000 since the launch, the news release added.

“Minnesota Varsity League’s introduction of a middle school league marks a significant advancement in establishing Minnesota as a leading hub for scholastic esports,” said Jacqueline Lamm, STEM/Esports TOSA, MSP District. “Providing middle school students with equal opportunities to engage and learn in games they are growing to appreciate is truly remarkable. I am eagerly anticipating the innovation and progress of MNVL, both in its present state and in the future.”

Minnesota middle schools interested in onboarding for the Spring 2024 season can do so until the end of January 2024.

For more information on MNVL Jr. and details on registration, visit their website HERE.