Kaitlin Teniente becomes first woman to head varsity collegiate esports program in Texas

Teniente will head St. Mary’s team in their inaugural season this fall.

SAN ANTONIO – As esports – competitive multiplayer online gaming – continue to gain in popularity, local high schools and colleges have been adopting club and varsity programs, including St. Mary’s University. The inaugural season begins this fall, becoming the school’s 12th varsity sport.

San Antonio native Kaitlin Teniente was named the team’s head esports coach in March, making history by becoming the first woman heading up a collegiate varsity esports program in Texas.

“It’s important because, you know, there are eyes on me,” said Teniente. “There are eyes on this program and so I think it’s really important to set a good example, not just for anyone interested in collegiate esports but to set an example that women can be in Esports, women can be coaches, players and any of the roles that support competitive video games.”

Prior to accepting the role with St. Mary’s, Teniente held various role within esports – whether it be coordinating events or serving on panels to promote women in gaming. Her journey began at UTSA when she and a classmate ran esports events and has since included stops at Super League Gaming, Collegiate StarLeague, and, most recently, as an intern for Seattle-based Wizards of the Coast.

Teniente was inspired by a female colleague while working for Collegiate StarLeague and it reinforced her desire to stay involved to empower other women.

“The majority of players were guys, the majority of club officers were also guys and so knowing that there was someone else super passionate about competition and playing these games and just building positive communities, gave me a lot of confidence to keep doing that,” she said. “...I guess the hope is that I can be that for someone else and hopefully they feel inspired or comfortable to continue pursuing roles in esports.”

She’ll be joined by assistant coach, Mackenzie Moncada and volunteer, Carolina Fabela, and the trio will lead the team of 20 student-athletes beginning this fall. The staff has yet to decide on which games the Rattlers will run, but Overwatch, League of Legends, Fortnite and Rocket League are possibilities.

Teniente said she is excited for the opportunity to develop the Rattlers’ program from the ground up.

“I hope that this program becomes a model program for other schools, that other schools think that we’re doing something really, really right and would like to emulate it,” she said. “I really hope these teams are something to be proud of for the students, the players, the university and anyone who supports the team.”

About the Author:

Jessica covers high school, college and professional sports in the San Antonio area.