eSports (Electronic Sports), now officially recognized as an athletic program in most higher education settings takes on the form of organized, multiplayer online video game competitions and is becoming one of the fastest growing trends for youth engagement -- changing what it means to be a student athlete.
Through the Y’s eSports program, teens are welcome to be who they are, excel at what they love, and connect with like minds to develop the social, strategic and problem solving skills needed as they grow into thriving adults -- all in a safe, moderated and inclusive environment. Plus, in the name of healthy living, youth development and social responsibility, the Y encourages its students to make sure that all the time they spend gaming is balanced with exercise (as well as other important stuff like nutrition and education).
While concerns over the potential growth in sedentary lifestyle and social isolation are important to recognize, the National American Scholastic eSports Federation (NASEF) – a group working to make eSports part of high school and college curriculum – finds eSports participants show higher levels of inclusion and mutual respect and learn life skills like teamwork and strategic thinking while forming new types of social and community bonds through gaming.
"The Summit Area YMCA is excited to offer this program to our Middle School and High School Students." said Tiffany Escott, Berkeley Heights YMCA Executive Director. "We are looking forward to engaging a whole new community through our new eSports program. eSports is more than video games, we will work with the students on building skills such as coding and making their own video game, engaging the parents while focusing on an overall safe environment."
In the Y’s eSports program, participants can play from home or at the Summit YMCA. eSports offers cross-platform playing so students with different game consoles (Xbox or Nintendo Switch) can play together. Coaches are assigned to teams for supervision, guidance and safety. Players compete in tournaments, where they vie to be placed through qualification matches. Tournament formats can vary from single or double elimination to hybrid with group stage. Winners of tournaments (Champions) may gain national sponsors and international viewership. Players are also eligible for scholarship award opportunities and monetary prizes.
"eSports provides a platform for teens to interact and socialize competitively on a regular basis in a fun and organized system. Video games now and days can be trivial, they can be competitive, they can be silly and serious, as well as offer social critique." said Trevor Cromwell, Senior Youth & Teen Coordinator at the Summit Area YMCA. "Gaming can be isolating, with teens often feeling left out of social in school or after school program. Esports becomes a social experience and is a chance for all teens to be accepted into the fold. We're very excited to give our youth this new opportunity to connect with each other."
Students join teams to experience gameplay, practice for tournaments and reach team goals, like building workout and dietary plans to keep players healthy and improve reaction time. Through eSports, students will also learn online safety, teamwork accountability, academic improvement and punctuality. Students will also gain knowledge and experience in the career aspect of professional video gaming like how to improve skills to place in competitions, live stream, video production and game development. Students also incorporate the basics of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and teamwork to develop key skills like problem solving and good sportsmanship.
Students will have options to play NBA 2K21, Rocket League & Super Smash Bros on the Nintendo Switch or Xbox One, online from home or in-person at the Summit YMCA Teen Center.
>> Middle School Students play Mondays & Wednesdays from 6:00-7:00 PM
>> High School Students play Tuesdays & Thursdays from 6:00-7:00 PM
Senior Youth & Teen Coordinator
SUMMIT AREA YMCA
As a nonprofit, the Summit Area YMCA is committed to enhancing the lives of individuals and families in our community. We do so by offering financial assistance to those with demonstrated need so that they may enjoy all the Y has to offer, regardless of their ability to pay. This helps us ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income, or background has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Families with low or moderate household income or those who are experiencing financial hardship are encouraged to apply. Applicants must live or work in the Summit Area YMCA service area which includes Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Financial assistance can be used for membership, childcare, summer camp, enrichment, sports programs and more where additional fees apply, such as soccer and swimming lessons.
About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve over 15,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need.