Dubuque Esports League: Building Kids Up Through Gaming
I'm an avid gamer, no doubt about it. From my early years on the original NES all the way up to my current Xbox One and PC, I've played them all; RPG's, Sports, Action Adventure, Puzzle Solving, FPS. When I was younger though, playing with friends, or finding some competition, wasn't always the easiest thing to do. Technology has come a long way in those short years, and now gaming communities are springing up all over! Enter the Dubuque Esports League!
It was a phenomenal experience to be able to sit down and chat with co-founders and executive directors Shelby Wartick and Susie Quinn about how the Dubuque Esports League got started and the influence gaming has had on their kids, just like it's had on me and my kids through the years.
First off, Shelby and Susie, met through Young Professionals of Dubuque in 2007. Both served on the executive committee, and their committee remained close over the years, meeting regularly to socialize and catch up. As their careers have grown, so did their families.
Fast forward to August of 2022, and both ladies now have teenage sons. The two women continued to meet regularly and discussed how their sons struggled to find their way within the school system and were reluctant to return to traditional sports and/or music programs post-Covid-19. As mothers, they wanted to help their sons get involved and guide them to discover a community of peers where they felt they belonged. Both their boys loved to game. However, as moms and their limited view of gaming, they believed playing video games was getting in the way of them doing things other teenagers were doing to grow their social, emotional, and mental skills.
Soon they started to recognize that their sons were learning leadership, technical/tactical skills, and social skills through gaming. Susie and Shelby discovered that both of their sons already had a circle of friends that made them feel like they belonged; they were simply online instead of in-person. These moms took notice and initiative. They noticed that their sons would "come alive" playing these games and wanted that to continue, but to possibly add some more elements.
Those additional elements came in the form of Esports, when Susie brought them up to Shelby during a random lunch. She shared that she had looked into it and thought it would be perfect for their sons, but couldn’t find any programs in the immediate area. The goal being to provide an in-person community for them, and now all kids, to play video games together. The two decided to investigate the world of scholastic esports, and before you knew it, they decided to make it their mission to bring a structured, scholastic esports program to their community for their sons and others like them.
There are currently many opportunities to get involved. There will be Esports Camps throughout June and July for ages 7 to 16. Kids will take the chance to code their own games, and collaborate on STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math), and of course game with a new-found community of like minded kids! And I'm not gonna' lie, Delbert, the Dubuque Esports League Racoon Mascot, makes for a pretty sweet hoodie or baseball cap! Find more details at their website, where you can get involved, make donations, and sign-up your kids today! Their gaming and meeting site will be located at 3230 Dodge Street, Suite 109 when construction is officially finished (watch for more updates here).