Charity video game tournament a ‘Smash’ at High School

May 4, 2023

Wareham High School sophomore Hart Andrade’s reputation precedes him.

In one year on the school esports team, Andrade has placed first in every competitive video gaming tournament he has been in. His fellow gamers, and faculty advisors, speak his name with awe. 

At the start of his latest tournament, Andrade arrived with a flourish, leaping into the room and striking a dramatic pose. He wore an apt T-shirt: An image of a Nintendo controller with the slogan “Classically Trained.” 

Andrade and 11 other gamers, most of them members of the esports team, played in a “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” fighting game tournament on Wednesday, May 3 to raise money for Community Youth Empowerment Wareham.

“We host tournaments and have fun,” said instructor Jacob Savoie, “but it’s [also] to raise money for causes and bring students together.” 

If you have ever wanted to see beloved characters like Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog and Pikachu beat the pixels out of each other, then “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is the game for you.

The game, with 89 playable characters of all speeds, sizes and abilities, requires quick wit and reflexes to master. 

The tournament was part of the high school’s SAIL initiative, in which students do various projects to make up academic credits lost due to extended absences.

“We’re trying to get the students engaged in school,” said SAIL Coordinator Laura Damasso, who admits she has never played a video game in her life.

Andrade and freshman Lilly Jeffers, who also played in the tournament, have a friendly rivalry — well, “friendly-ish,” according to Jeffers.

“We can get competitive at times,” Jeffers said. “Very competitive.” 

“I’ll do my best, that’s all I can say,” Andrade said. “If I lose, that’s OK.” 

Currently, the esports team is not big enough to compete with other schools, so the students face each other.

Education coordinator and assistant coach Christian Fernandes said that, like any other sport, video games teach teamwork and sportsmanship.

“Esports helps them release so they’re not stressed,” Fernandes said, “but at the same time, we try to teach them how not to be angry gamers, not to yell and scream at other players, not to swear.” 

Eighth grader Ethan Sut managed to beat Savoie, much to the excitement of eighth grader Zachary Francis.

“Show him that kids are better at video games than teachers!” Zachary cried. 

“Very close match,” Savoie said. “[Ethan’s] a phenomenal player.” 

“I enjoy beating people,” Ethan said. “I gotta be honest.” 

Andrade lost his first match to eighth grader Jude Kerwin, shocking his competitors — especially Jude. The other players were excited, because if even Andrade could lose, then they might have a chance. 

“I’m naturally talented at video games,” Jude said. “I just try to hide all of my intimidation.” 

Senior Dezmond Swartz-Sabrosky came in third place, winning a $25 GameStop gift card. 

Ethan came in second place, winning a $50 gift card, and Savoie came in first place, winning a $100 gift card. Savoie donated his gift card back to the SAIL program to help fund the next tournament.