This article was provided in partnership with the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.
At the YMCA, all sports staff, including coaches and volunteers, share a vision to
help all youth and adults reach their full potential in life. YMCA sports are known for
providing a healthy outlet for players to gain new skills, develop a sense of team,
and connect with positive role models.
On Saturday, September 10, 2022, the D.R. Semmes Family YMCA at TriPoint
opened the first YMCA Egaming Center in the area. The center includes 18 new PCs,
fun LED lighting, and a dedicated space for families and youth to play in a safe
environment and will help youth develop new life skills and provide educational and
career pathway opportunities. Electronic Gaming, or Egaming, takes on the form of
organized, multiplayer online video game competitions and is one of the fastest
growing trends for youth engagement. The Y’s Egaming program invites youth to be
who they are, excel at what they love, and develop the social, strategic, and
problem-solving skills necessary to grow into thriving adults, all in a safe,
moderated, and inclusive environment in San Antonio.
The Egaming Center is a member value add-on called an Egaming All Access Pass,
available for members of any YMCA of Greater San Antonio branch. Non-Members
will also have the opportunity to Pay to Play. Types of play include OPEN or “Drop
in” at the Y Egaming center to play with other Y gamers at regularly scheduled times.
Team play is where teams are formed to compete in area leagues, and league play allows youth to compete against other Y’s in the area.
The Egaming program is led by Chris Saenz, YMCA’s Esports Director and CEO of
Texas Gaming Empire. He is passionate about pioneering innovative Esports events
that build life skills, increase educational opportunities, and give hands-on
experiences in the Esports industry. He has focused on building local-level Esports
on the college and high school levels, giving kids hands-on educational experiences
through internships, and connecting them to colleges for higher education and
As with all YMCA sports leagues, YMCA Egaming will promote youth development,
healthy living, and social responsibility by prioritizing involvement and healthy
competition rather than rivalry. They will also learn the value of participation over
winning and gain team-building and individual development, a positive self-image, and
mutual respect for others. Games often involve strategizing by working together on
a team to complete a task, goal, or objective. Players will learn when they should
take the lead and when to follow for the overall good of the group.
Safe Places is a national youth outreach and prevention program for people under
18 who need immediate help and safety. At the YMCA Egaming center, an adult
moderates games at all times in a safe and inclusive environment. All Y’s in Greater
San Antonio are also designated Safe Places for at-risk youth seeking refuge. All players’ identities are known, eliminating the “stranger danger” often seen in online communities.
There are many opportunities for youth to grow and thrive in Egaming. The YMCA promotes a positive, inclusive environment where everyone can succeed. Youth are welcome to sign up with friends, but they can also sign up as individuals. The Y will place them on a team when necessary for team play, and they will have an opportunity to make new friends. Participating youth receive weekly coaching, curriculum, competitive league play, and a uniform during each session. Youth are welcome to compete against other Y Egaming participants around the United States. The recent influx of interest has sparked career and academic opportunities in Egaming, including college scholarships and more.