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Teamwork, friendship and laughs, light up esports scrimmage

Updated: May 17

Above: The Gateway Family YMCA (Elizabeth, NJ) esports team, The AscendancY. Left to right: Tyrek, Feliz, Coach Sebastian, Tamir, Jawad, and Christian.

On Saturday, May 11, our two newest esports teams jumped into the arena for a special scrimmage match! It was The AscendancY of The Gateway Family YMCA in Elizabeth, NJ vs. The Dominators of the Grand Street Settlement in Lower Manhattan.

Above: The AscendancY (left) and The Dominators (right) in action.

The teams played the crazy popular vehicular soccer video game, Rocket League, for a vigorous best out of five game mini-tournament. As with all esports games in our program, it wasn’t about winning or losing, but coming together as team members, friends, and collaborators for a joyful communal experience.

The Loyalty Foundation was present at both locations. Founder David Neeman, coaching The Dominators at the Grand Street Settlement in Lower Manhattan, and Loyalty Foundation Director of Development, Lane Kukar and Director of Public Relations & Grants, Andy Reynolds cheering on The AscendancY, and reporting from The Gateway Family YMCA in Elizabeth, NJ.


In attendance at The Gateway Family YMCA were Branch Executive, Laura Margeotes and esports coach, Sebastian Restrepo. We asked them both what they want people who are unfamiliar to understand about the importance of esports programs.


Laura said, “I would say to anyone that doesn’t understand the good side of video games, come and look at what our youth are doing and working as a team. Most think of video gamers or gamers as sitting in a basement or in a room by themselves, but as you can see coming here and watching, they’re working as a team. It’s all about communication, teamwork, and supporting each other.”


Coach Sebastian agrees, “For someone who doesn’t understand the positive side of video games, I would explain to them that video games are and can be a way for people to really come together and to learn to cooperate. Video games are a way for you to relax and find people who have the same ideas and share some of the same passions as you do. So, I feel like that’s what they’re really good for, and people should really know about that.”


We also took this opportunity to talk to a few of The AscendancY team members about what the Loyalty Foundation esports program means to them.

Here are what Tyrek, Tamir and Feliz (above, left to right) of team The AscendancY had to say about what they like about being a part of the esports program. (Tap each photo above to watch their YouTube shorts.)


Tyrek (18), "My favorite thing about being part of this program is how I get to meet with people from all ages, and we all enjoy the same thing and come together have fun for the amount of time we’re here. And the fact I’m surrounded by people that won’t judge me or anything like that. And I’m here to play and have fun and we all laugh and have a good time."


Tamir (17) on what he likes about being team captain, “It feels really good cause I feel like I’m actually a good role model, cause I have a younger brother. I’m more of a team player. I’ve been playing Rocket League since 2015, so I like being able to explain stuff and try to help you improve.”

Feliz (18), said, “Honestly, literally everybody here, the people here are great. And also the fun times that we spent together.”


And when asked about what he’s learned from the program, Feliz added, “Teamwork. How to properly communicate with people. Also, I’ve learned real life stuff. I’ve talked to my coach about things and then he gave me some advice.”

High school age esports programs tap into the worldwide enthusiasm for electronic gaming—with a global audience of over half a billion—to utilize the power of esports to prepare students for higher education and careers.

"In the past couple years colleges have begun giving out scholarships and there has been more money set aside for esports in particular," Coach Sebastian told us. "I think it has to do with the fact that people have started to notice that it takes more than just picking up a controller and starting to play. Some of these games have a lot mechanical and technical aspects to them that you have to learn and it takes you six month to a year, sometimes, to learn one simple aspect. So, I think that’s why people are starting to recognize and put money aside and fund organizations for esports, especially colleges."

It was a great day for all involved. We are grateful for the grant from the J.C. Kellogg Foundation Fund & the Community Foundation of New Jersey that allowed us to build the computer lab and distribute 30 free Chromebooks to Gateway Family YMCA youth. (More about the Chromebook distribution that followed the scrimmage in the next post.)

"The top three things kids take away from coming here," said Coach Sebastian, "I would say are teamwork, coordination and friendship. Being able to come here and see the same people every day and talk to them and get to know them. That’s really good."


For more about our esports, as well as AI&Art and Devices4All® programs, check out our Programs page or email us here.


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