Last Saturday (January 6, 2024), we held the first round of try-outs for our newest middle and high school age esports program at The Gateway Family YMCA of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Eight aspiring Rocket League team members showed up, all nervous and psyched to flex their gaming skills. Joy was had and more joy and will surely follow as The Gateway Family YMCA Rocket League team and community takes shape. As Loyalty Foundation founder David Neeman put it, “the excitement in the air was palatable!” A second round try-outs is scheduled for this Saturday (January 13, 2024).
We are grateful for the grant from J.C. Kellogg Foundation Fund that allowed us to to build the computer lab and start tryouts for the team under six months!
Here's what future athletes Tamir, Christian, Tajimin (above) had to say at the try-outs for The Gateway Family YMCA esports team:
"I feel really excited to be here, because I’ve always wanted to be a part of something like this, where there’s a club and you I can play against other people and hopefully get better soon.” – Tamir
"I like gaming because it helps me when I am sad to play with friends or new people. I like it because when I’m playing with other people, I can experience how other people think about their game, their strategies so I can know how to play" – Christian
"It just brings everybody together. They all come to the YMCA. Everybody plays games and stuff, they cheer each other on, they talk to each other, communicate, everything.” – Tajimin
Below are a few photos from the try-outs, plus the permanent computer lab built by the Loyalty Foundation (which can be used year-round for additional programs by YMCA members), and the team players being briefed and then sweating out the try-outs. At the bottom of the page is the Y's Facebook rpost about the day.
In Spring of 2023 the Loyalty Foundation launched the first-ever esports team for Newark City Schools. Thanks to the excitement that program (and video about it) generated at the Newark Board of Education, we are currently setting up a second program for Newark City Schools at Malcom X Shabazz High School, as well as at the Grant Street Settlement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.