How ‘Iolani School Uses Video Games to Teach Tech and Teamwork

(Sponsored) With its esports program, ‘Iolani students build lifelong skills while enjoying their favorite pastime.


Iolani School Esports Program 2

Photo: Courtesy of ‘Iolani School



The ‘Iolani esports program was launched in 2019 with an initial team of 12 students. Since then, it has grown exponentially, now housing more than 240 boys and girls as of last season, and another 125 signups to try out this Club Day.


Teams are student-led and faculty-supported. To manage a program of this size, students take up roles ranging from team captains, lab managers, social media managers, IT support specialists, Twitch broadcasters, server moderators and tournament organizers. Additionally, students receive career and technical training for broadcasting, computer maintenance, social media management, tournament organization and other career-focused skills, taught by guest lecturers from the video game and esports industries.


Iolani School Esports Program 3

Photo: Courtesy of ‘Iolani School



The ‘Iolani esports arena is a state-of-the-art facility that houses 36-plus high-end gaming computers, consoles, and recording, broadcasting and announcer facilities. The newer systems feature GTX 3090 graphics cards and a dedicated internet connection. This year, the ‘Iolani high school program is expanding with multiple teams enrolled in the HHSAA PlayVS Hawai‘i State tournament, as well as the HSEL Adopting Excellence Program and national tournaments. Titles include League of Legends, Super Smash Bros, Rocket League, Valorant, Madden, FIFA 21 and more.


The goal of the esports program is to provide coaching and leadership training in preparation for college placement and to provide support for esports scholarship applications and recruitment onto college teams. This year, the program added 40 new esports leadership students who enrolled in summer esports leadership training courses taught by head coach Gabriel Yanagihara.


Iolani School Esports Program

Photo: Courtesy of ‘Iolani School



The diverse mix of students engaged in esports complements the new boarding program at ‘Iolani School as the program becomes home to students coming from all over the world. Many students are enrolled in multiple athletic programs, and this year the ‘Iolani esports program is resuming its opt-in physical training program, which focuses on calisthenics, mobility and weights.


‘Iolani teams compete against schools all across Hawai‘i and the world, as well as engage with collegiate esports teams. ‘Iolani has also completed its first year running a middle school division, which was developed in partnership with Vanta Leagues to provide a safe and supervised gaming experience for students. This allows both the school and parents to supervise and support healthy habits while coaching students on conflict management, computer and communication skills.


Interested in the unique myriad of learning opportunities at ‘Iolani School? Register for the October 19 Grade 6-9 Information Session to learn more about what makes this school such a special place. More about the 6:30 p.m. webinar at