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'Esports is built on community’: St. Mary’s University hopes to create more diversity in competitive gaming program

The university will host a gaming event to raise future scholarship funds

SAN ANTONIO – Competitive video gaming, otherwise known as esports, is considered one of the fastest-growing sports globally. However, some believe there is a lack of diversity.

St. Mary’s University launched its Rattler esports program this year. Teresa Lee, a senior at the university, said she believes it’s a place for everyone.

“Regardless of skill level, you’re still welcome,” she said.

Lee also hopes she can serve as an inspiration to future gamers.

“Being an African-American female in this community, I also would like to be able to inspire those,” Lee said.

Jose Antelo, a student from Bolivia, said the program has helped him feel included.

“It’s a sport that’s growing very rapidly, and I wanted to be a part of this,” Antelo said.

Head coach of the program, Kaitlin Teniente, said Black and Latino students are often underrepresented because of lack of accessibility. She noted issues are often associated with high costs of equipment and the internet.

“We recognize that exists and want to make it a little easier for those who are not represented in esports,” she said.

However, the university hopes to bridge the divide by providing scholarships to future students who are people of color.

“The idea is that these scholarships would help us, in turn, recruit that kind of student to bring them into the program,” Teniente said.

She said the scholarships are just one part of a bigger plan to create diversity and equity.

“Esports is built on community. You’re still getting something meaningful,” she said.

The fundraiser event for those scholarships will be held Friday. The event begins at noon and will be streamed lived on the Rattlers esports program’s Twitch feed.

The goal is to raise at least $5,000.