Q&A with esports scholarship athlete Darlene Pineda


As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, we can reflect on how the legislation has helped promote equality and change in sport at all levels. The impacts continue to be felt, both in traditional sports and in new sports.

The growing popularity of esports hasn’t been limited to just one gender. There are scholarship opportunities for everyone in this burgeoning sport.

Darlene Pineda is a woman from the last class to have received a scholarship to play esports at the next level.

Portales High School (NM) alumni will play League of Legends at New Mexico State University, aiming to expand its reach and play more games, should the opportunity arise. present.

Because there are now countless opportunities for people to play esports competitively and monetize their talents. Live streaming technologies such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch have allowed people to play games with audiences tuned into the competition.

PlayVS is part of efforts to bring these games into organized, competitive, college-level sports. Their mission, which helps students like Pineda earn college scholarships, has results that make high school sports all the more exciting.

Pineda shared her story in an email interview exchange with USA High School Sports. Here is the transcript of the conversation:

Q: When you started playing esports in your second year, did you ever think you could get a college scholarship to play?

Darlene: When I started playing esports in second grade, I remembered my coach telling me that there were people giving out scholarships to play. With that, I kept it in mind and played as much as I could to improve myself and get recognized for a scholarship. I definitely had my doubts that I wasn’t good enough for anyone to recognize me, but our head director of our esports program certainly helped us get there.

Q: Over the past few years, how have you seen esports progress and develop?

Darlene: In my small town, when we started, few people joined us; I would say about 15 people joined. Now there are so many more people joining and people getting involved. I volunteered at esports camp in high school this summer and taught new members about the game I played and told them about the scholarship I was getting. With my friends and I getting scholarships to play video games in college, I think this has opened up more opportunities for those who love playing video games to get into college and play for them.

Q: What is your fondest memory/moment of your high school playing time?

Darlene: Probably my biggest memory from when I was playing in high school would be finding out that we got scholarships to play esports. It was our very last time playing for our high school and we wouldn’t have thought to sign up for college esports. I thought I should go to college and try to get into the program the hard way, and it scared me because I always doubt myself and always think I’ll never be good enough to get into everything that. I am also shy and calm and it would have been very difficult for me to find my way around.

Q: As a kid, what video games did you play and how did those moments contribute to your high school career?

Darlene: When I was little, I played almost everything. I had a Nintendo DS, PSP, Wii, PS2, and Xbox 360 that I shared with my brother, a PS4, and now a PC. I’ve played games ranging from Pokemon to GTA to COD to Modern Warfare. I used video games as an escape from everything that was going on. I’m glad I never got tired of playing video games because I had a great opportunity to do something I loved to do.

Q: How did playing esports in high school help shape you as a person and grow into your next chapter?

Darlene: Video games, for me, was almost another world I lived in. It was another way to give free rein to my creativity and keep my child’s soul. Who wouldn’t love to play video games as part of their career? I hope to keep playing and making more memories doing something I love as part of the next chapter of my life.

Q: Why did you choose to play League of Legends? What other games do you hope you can play in college?

Darlene: I chose League of Legends because I had played it before and my school didn’t offer any other games at the time other than Rocket League and Smite, which a lot of people were already playing and no one was really playing League of Legends. In college, I hope to play Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, and Call of Duty in addition to playing League of Legends, although I probably won’t be on those teams.

Q: How do you see the high school esports landscape changing in five years?

Darlene: I see high school esports encouraging kids to keep doing what they love and proving that playing video games is more than just sitting in front of a pretty-colored screen.


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