This is my conversation with Fernando on what is happening with CAST Tech and the San Antonio Esports scene, what CAST Tech Gaming is, how it started, how you can support and join. Fernando and I are both CAST Tech seniors in the UX pathway.
Jonathan: What brought you to CAST Tech?
Fernando: “I actually was homeschooled. I have never been to a traditional high school or public school at all. Period. I enjoyed homeschooling a lot, but I also started finding my passion for video editing. It was my 14th birthday at the time, and I am walking down the stairs at 1 pm; I am homeschooled, and I get to wake up whenever I want. My mom comes up to me, “Happy birthday! There’s a school.” I said “No, I don’t want to go to a public school.” she said, “No, no, no, it has video editing and sound design and all the stuff you like.” I was like, “Really? Okay I’ll try it out.” I went to the meeting; this seemed pretty cool.
I will definitely try it out for a little bit. If I don’t like it, I resume back to homeschool. If I do, I can continue. I was able to convince some of my friends to go, too.”
Jonathan: What do you like most about CAST?
Fernando: “I’d say it is the environment. In a traditional school, you’re just stuck with a limited schedule and go along with your day. No one really cares. But at CAST everyone has something to do, no one is just doing basic stuff; you see tour guides going through. I toured Will Hurd and saw the CEO of USAA just walking down the school, and you get to talk to him. I thought, “What, this is like crazy.” There’s something new every day. Also, everyone at CAST Tech is there for a reason, to study into your passion with pathways.”
Jonathan: What’s an ambassador?
Fernando: “I am one of the ambassadors, a person who takes charge, shows leadership, and is not shy to speak. At the beginning of high school, there were 150 students, and they were going to start doing tours and needed student guides. They noticed other students and me and said, “Hey, do you want to become an ambassador, you get to tour all these different people, speak at panels, sit in on the meetings and give your insights of the school?” I was like, “of course that sounds awesome.” of course, you’re trying to role model the school and try to keep a positive attitude and make sure you’re not doing nothing dumb online.”
Jonathan: Why did you create this video?
Fernando: “I was always following the video game scene. There was this one huge team. The team used to document every single thing that the team did. It felt like you actually knew the person and team instead of someone random. When I was going into gaming, I didn’t want it to be a basic high school where no one knows who we are. I want us to be recognized by universities and our supporters that are following us on social media. We have all our supporters spamming our emotes and chats saying “CTG, CTG,” One of the things a lot of people ask is what it’s like to be a high school Esports player and running a club.”
Jonathan: What’s the main point of the video?
Fernando: “I said, “Welp, I am going to give them an idea of what it’s like, the daily life of a high school athlete.” I see others do football, basketball, but I wanted to change things up into a high school Esports player. I wanted to do the video after spring break. I just wanted to give my insights. Also, I felt a lot of people were having some mental health problems. I felt like a lot of people are dealing with that. I wanted to do this thing to show we are all dealing with the same thing.”
Jonathan: As President of the gaming club, what are the roles and goals for the club?
Fernando: “Originally, when I first started it, the second building wasn’t made, and I wanted to build the club up to have a gaming classroom where we possibly do education, so this can be an actual class period. Use it as motivation, too, so we implemented UIL rulesets, so you have to be passing all your classes and maintain an 80 as your GPA. It transitioned the club into the Esports scene. Our Esports needed to do really well and shine, especially under pressure. We grew our social media and the Esports social media so that people can be like, “Yo, we want to invest in y’all.” That worked; that’s how we were able to go to Cafes and go to significant events like PAX South. It transitioned to a gaming club, which is more casual gaming to create a friendship, have everyone feel included.
I am the club president myself, and I manage the social media, and I make sure everyone’s calm, relaxed, and collected. If there are any issues, they report to me.
Co-President or Vice-President, their main goal is to set up events, to set up more of the time and hosting the event, to tell everyone the rules.
The Vice-President, who is also President of the student council, shout out to Joseph, is actually doing that with other high schools, and growing the community.
Historian and Secretary are other positions for the club.
We want to do large events that are crazy to think about, those are starting to become possible.”
Jonathan: When did the Esports program start?
Fernando: “I’ve been in the competitive gaming scene since I was 13. I had my own Esports team and had some experience with leadership there. When I came, there was this teacher at CAST, and we liked the same video games. Later I asked if he could be the teacher sponsor for a gaming club. Then, someone heard I was decent at video games. My friends said if they wanted to play “Siege” later tonight. I said, “Yeah, sure whatever. The person who asked me is now the Secretary. Then they said we should really create a team. I was already in talks to get a club going, so I said, “Yeah sure, let us start it up.” On the last day of freshman year, we passed around a paper to sign up saying, “If you want to see a gaming club;” we got 57 signatures.
When talks started to get more serious, I talked with Dr. Alcala. I told her, “Look, this is blowing up and getting more views than the Superbowl and NBA finals. We could get recognized nationally.” and I added, “You need good grades to stay in.” She said, “Okay, let’s do it.” it wasn’t going to be the level it is today, just minimal and no event hosting.
The team went to an event at Microsoft. We became the best in the state and won $150, even beating college teams. After, we came back in and had an open meeting. Over 70 students were on the learning staircase, and we had to turn students back since it was so packed. That is how we have 50 students competing at national levels and 12 students being looked at by university for scholarships. It started by just wanting to play video games together, to being the best in the city, to the best in the west, to 2nd in the nation.”
Jonathan: Does the team have a team name or logo?
Fernando: “CAST Tech Gaming, and we use the CAST Tech mascot logo.”
Jonathan: How many members are there?
Fernando: “CAST Team has over 80 club members overall; people come and go. In the Esports gaming scene, we have 55 unique members in HSEL (High School Esport League).”
Jonathan: How do you compete, and what’s your record?
Fernando: “We lost 1 in the regular season, lost during finals. Every other game we won, then we tied for 2 of our games.
We don’t do good in the regular seasons. In the playoffs, we had a dominant run. Steamrolling the teams, then in grand finals, I think we should’ve won. I don’t know, some weird vibes were going on.”
Jonathan: Who can be part of this club?
Fernando: “Anyone can be a part of this club. The only limits are bad attitudes and not willing to learn.”
Jonathan: How can people follow or learn more about the club?
Jonathan: Next year is your senior year. What are you looking forward to?
Fernando: “I want to win a chip. I want to win that first place personally. For the club’s growth, I want to have three charity events to help the community show, hey, we are not just focusing on ourselves. I want to change people’s lives and help with grades by the club. I want to impact as many people as I can so they get a better future.”