Forest Hills: Ben Grove Interview

Starting this week, I will be starting with some interviews for each of the high school team managers! To start off this series I decided to interview the manager of Forest Hills, Ben Grove.

The Beginning

For the purpose of this interview, I started off by asking Ben how he got started with their Esports program and how he came across TEC. “Luke Trotz was and is the reason for everything I do in Esports. Luke and I would play video games in Middle/High School (Halo/Call of Duty/Pokémon). This continued into college and our adult life, and he would always make an attempt one night a week to
unite all of us in playing together and sharing our lives while having fun. Still to this day, I
remember Luke introducing me to Seth Mason in the Galleria Mall to see the arena built
with the current technology and a state-of-the-art atmosphere for any gamer to enjoy. At
that time I was coaching ice hockey for our high school and Luke told me I would be
hanging up the skates to trade it for coaching Esports.” Luke Trotz was credited by Ben as his sole reason for getting into the Esport scene and meeting Seth, but how about getting into the industry itself? “Luke and I went to our school board in February 2020 to propose the formation of an Esports club at Forest Hills. Luke and Seth are absolute pillars in Forest Hills Esports being a force in the Laurel Highlands ESports scene, our existence would not be possible if it wasn’t for both of those gentlemen believing in the development/growth of Esports in our community. Once we got the approval, the Senior
Class of 2020 created a foundation/framework of what standards our club and its
members should have. Strong academics, positive standing in the school environment,
being involved within the Forest Hills community, becoming a role model for younger
students to continue/grow the legacy of our club.”

The Precedent

All of this being put together is a great story but why Ben? There could have been someone else who could have taken the reigns for this, to answer that I asked Ben about his history with videogames and how long he has been involved and he had this to say “I do consider myself a gamer! If I were to pick my game to compete I would choose Halo Infinite or Halo: MCC . Halo and CS were huge when I was in high school and it has changed for how many students now play any video game. There used to be a lab in our high school and at the time I was afraid of going in due to not fitting in with those
students. Eventually, those students were able to put CS GO and Halo on almost all the
PC’s and they were unblocked on the school PC’s . I was also shocked by how many
people flocked to them in the early 2000’s” Ben cherishes his time as a teacher and loves the job, but teaching can be a very stressful and draining experiencing but thankfully Ben has an outlet “Being a teacher is my 1st priority and I need to fulfill my responsibilities when I am on
the job. After some difficult days at work, it is a pleasure to go home on some nights and
meet up with friends from the high school/ college days to vent and enjoy a moment with
them.”

The Build Up

Getting into the Esports scene is no easy feat for anyone and Forest Hills is no exception to the case. They had a good start and had many staff on board, but then the pandemic happened and changed things for everyone. “When the pandemic hit, we did not know how as an organization we would operate. By
using Discord and playing from home for the past 2 years, it was a challenge on a variety of levels.”
Though there was trouble, the school had a fantastic amount of heart and soul behind it and Ben had this to say about his team and students “These were new technologies I have never used and I give total credit to all of our players in the past 3 years that have helped me grow and learn more about
providing team communication. Many students had issues with internet connections, devices not working, and not truly having a dedicated space to play the game.”

Looking Forward

Ben has contributed a great amount of information here and it has really been eye opening to me and hopefully to you the readers. He and his team are looking forward into the future of their careers as students, athletes, and gamers. From what they have accomplished so far in the past 3 years, they truly have a lot to look forward to and Ben had this to conclude upon “Our talent of players throughout our 3 years speaks volume. 5 students compete/competed for collegiate ESports and have been awarded ~$12k (*collectively)in Esports scholarships. Many parents are hesitant to have their child in Esports. In our 3 years, I have seen our players grow socially, academically, and become role models for other students within our school. There has been nothing but positive outcomes as an organization we have had and we plan to continue to grow and compete in Esports.”


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