Fort Worth ISD

Fort Worth ISD Embraces Growing eSports Industry, Expands Program

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Competitive online gaming, or eSports, is a fast-growing industry and Fort Worth ISD has expanded its program across high schools in the district.

Recently, the district joined the High School eSports League. Daphne Rickard, Executive Director of Career and Technical Education at FWISD, said eSports was first offered as an afterschool activity four years ago at three or four schools.

“Right now at 16 of our 21 high schools, it’s an afterschool program and we’re working to build it in as part of the curriculum and offer multiple courses and opportunities for students,” Rickard said. “This allows students who traditionally may not have thought of these team activities and team sports, because they weren’t interested in playing football and basketball. But man, you see these kids at home playing video games and eSports has brought that video game culture into an environment into school where they can build teamwork. They can build on that comradery.”

The district hosted an expo on Thursday at the Teaching and Learning Center, where roughly 100 students from the 16 newly formed eSports teams participated. David Saenz, Chief Innovation Officer for FWISD, said the expansion of their program could potentially help with attendance and overall school performance.

“Students participate in football. Students participate in fine arts, and some students haven’t found that place to participate. eSports could be that outlet for them,” Saenz said. “It gives them hope. It gives them a good opportunity to learn 21st-century skills, as we call them, which is collaboration, teamwork, leadership.”

Daisy Rueda, a senior at the I.M. Terrell Academy, is president of her school’s eSports team. Rueda said she has found a community within eSports.

“I’m not really like outspoken so if I have friends, they’re more seniors but I have met a lot of freshmen, sophomores, juniors,” Rueda said. “If my college offers it, I would like to get into it.”

Donal Alexy, a senior at Arlington Heights High School, said he has been interested in online gaming since middle school. For him, professional gaming would be a dream job.

“I’ve been accepted into college that has game design,” Alexy said. “I’m also hoping to become an animator and you know, esports teams pose a huge bonus for the college I’ve been accepted to.”

According to Fort Worth ISD, more than 300 colleges have incorporated eSports into their campus and many offer millions of dollars in scholarships.

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