Rodney Black on Esports at the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas
In the 2022 July/August issue we spoke with Rodney Black, the associate executive director at the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, about esports.
Can you share a little about the esports program at the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and how it got started?
We started the esports program during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure we could continue to reach children in a virtual space. It started fully virtual with players across the Dallas and Fort Worth metroplex playing Super Smash Bros, NBA 2K, Fortnite and Rocket League. We offer leagues, tournaments and clinics children can attend based off their schedule needs.
Leagues offer one match per week and tournaments are a one or two-day event. We’ve had over 500 children participate in our first year. The Dallas YMCA launched in-person gaming May 2022 with our 28-foot mobile YMCA gaming trailer. This will allow us to serve the entire metroplex with in-person gaming.
What are the top three lessons you’ve learned since launching the program?
The top three lessons I’ve learned are the average age of our gamer is 10, an attendance policy is a must to ensure matches are played and children really enjoy the environment esports provides.
Why should community centers consider offering esports to their community?
Esports enables communities to reach children of all skill levels which is very important in our industry. All children can compete regardless of their athletic ability. Additionally, esports provides valuable life skills because it’s based on strategic moves with teamwork.
If you had to share one tip for creating a successful esports program, what would it be?
I would recommend an organization provide a wide range of options in order to stay current with the game titles the kids are interested in playing. If you want to know what they’re interested in playing, just ask.