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St. Mary’s University Esports names first coaching staff, prepares for uncertain season amid COVID-19

Head coach Kaitlin Teniente attempting to build program, recruit and conduct tryouts online

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SAN ANTONIO – St. Mary’s University announced its first collegiate esports coaching staff on Friday and it is now working hard to put together its program despite the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the 2020 fall semester.

Kaitlin Teniente has been named the program’s first head coach and will work with recently named assistant coach Mack Moncada and volunteer Carolina Fabela, according to a press release.

“We are thrilled to introduce Kaitlin as our new head coach for our esports team,” Director of Athletics Robert Coleman said. “Her educational and practical work experiences in esports are exceptional, but I’m especially excited about her leadership methods and head coaching track record.”

St. Mary’s University adding esports to athletic program in fall 2020

St. Mary’s University said that Teniente, a 25-year-old San Antonio native, is believed to be among the first women to lead a collegiate esports program in the region and one of only about a dozen women to head a collegiate esports team across the country.

Teniente said she thought at this time she would be building the program, recruiting and conducting tryouts in-person, but the novel coronavirus changed things. The team’s spring tryouts have now been moved entirely online over the coming months, and face-to-face communication with prospective students has been diverted to a popular chat server, Discord, the press release said.

”This is unprecedented," Teniente said, “but we can use the tools and resources at our disposal to adapt to the situation. Unlike traditional sports, esports has the unique capability to be played, spectated and produced completely online.”

St. Mary’s University said that the coaching staff has been communicating by email, Zoom calls and Discord chats as they start the university’s 12th varsity athletics program.

“My vision is to see the esports program be more than ‘competitive video games,’” she said. “I want the program to be a source of pride for both students and the university. For players, I want them to walk away from the program having a positive and memorable college experience, where they felt included and valued. To our competitors, I want St. Mary’s Esports to be known for their hard work, skills, camaraderie, and sportsmanship in both victory and defeat,” Teniente said.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March. The first case confirmed in the U.S. was in mid-January and the first case confirmed in San Antonio was in mid-February.

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