Hayward's drone soccer team students display skills to governor, former OSU standout

May 7—Hayward Middle School's drone soccer team members showed off their skills to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio State Buckeye football standout and Springfield native Braxton Miller on Tuesday afternoon following a national competition in Virginia against 16 other teams April 27.

Coach Luke Kelly said the drone soccer team is proud to call themselves pioneers in the sport, having hosted and won the state's first official drone soccer match earlier this school year.

The team is made up of students Collin Bostick (Striker and Defender), Neetchy Eugene (Striker and Forward), Christopher Moore (Goalie), Jamir Rolls (Forward), Anna Hollingsworth (Forward), Joseph Kelly (Defender), Eric Rofe (Defender) and Hart Underwood (Crew Member). It's coached by Kelly and David Zeller, and sponsored by The Braxton Miller Foundation, which also sponsors the school's XTreme Bots team.

>> PHOTOS: Governor visits Springfield middle school drone program

DeWine said it was great to see the kids having fun while competing and learning.

"Schools doing things that combine fun and creativity and learning, that's what works with young people," DeWine said. "... I think more schools doing things like this, whether it's drones or some other way to get get kids excited, it's the most important thing and what we all want for our kids."

DeWine said the students made the sport look easy.

Drone soccer is a fast-growing new sport, originating from Asia, that involves two teams of up to five players per team. Each player is equipped with a drone and has a position, similar to traditional soccer, and the drones are flown in a large cage. The winner is determined by the team that scores the highest number of goals.

Kelly said the students have put in so much work handling the drones that they successfully completed an obstacle course.

Miller, who went to Hayward Middle and said he made his first slam dunk in the gym where the demonstration took place, said he always planned to give back when given the chance.

Miller and a member of DeWine's staff tried out the drones, and Miller said although he plays video games, this was harder. Students said the controllers are very sensitive.

"I want to go lower, go to elementary school and expand from elementary to high school ... once we get more donations we can expand it out," Miller said. He thanked the community for the support.

Miller also supports the Springfield Sports Academy, a sports-centric charter school.

Rolls said the competition was fun, allowing him to meet new people, see others play the sport and refine his technique. Bostick also found the competition educational.

Hayward Middle School Principal Edna Chapman said she is proud to see "Springfield City Schools at our finest" with teachers and students putting in the work.