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Hogan Family YMCA now offers eSports

MADISON – Hogan Family YMCA is offering new sessions for eSports, which has gained interest from enthusiasts in both gaming and digital technology.

“eSports is a catch-all term for playing various video games in an organized format . . . similar to how sports is a catch-all term for games like football and basketball. Players can compete on a team or individually,” Hunter Johnson said. Among his responsibilities, Johnson works as eSports Coordinator with Heart of the Valley YMCA.

The object to the game depends entirely on the game that individuals are playing. “For example, the goal of the game ‘Rocket League’ is to score more goals than your opponent does by hitting a ball into the opponent’s goal,” Johnson said.

Both Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools now have eSports teams.

“As more people grow up with video games, the popularity for organized play is only going to go up,” Johnson said. “We’re just now seeing eSports truly escape from a niche interest into the mainstream.”

“I couldn’t be more excited,” Johnson said.

Initially, the YMCA wants to provide eSports to as many school-age children as possible. During the first quarter of 2022, Heart of the Valley YMCA will expand with a variety of games to different age groups.

“The software and tools, like with the objective, varies between games. However, there are a few staples for esports, including the gaming console with a controller or a laptop/computer with keyboard and mouse,” he said.

“Problems and challenges arise to the players, based on strategies and skills used by their opponents. Depending on the level of knowledge and skill the opponent has, it could be more or less of a challenge,” Johnson said.

Currently, registration for eSports is open to all Y members at all locations, including Hogan Family YMCA in Madison. The first season starts Feb. 15, 2022 and will be a league for families with 8- to 12-year-old children.

All eSports competition now is internal to the YMCA. “Members and non-members who register will compete against one another,” he said.

“In the upcoming seasons, we’ll start including other age groups. An in-person tournament is tentatively planned for summer 2022 at Hogan Family YMCA,” Johnson said.

For more information, call Johnson at 256-883-9622, email Hunter.johnson@ymcahuntsville.org or visit ymcahuntsville.org/esports.

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