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LBHS Esports Team Receives Grant for New Lab

Kristie Shepherd is an old-school gamer. 

That’s why the digital learning coach at Lake Belton High School jumped at the opportunity to form an esports team this year at the new school. 

“It’s been my dream to start a program at every school I’ve been at,” said the 13-year veteran educator, who previously was at Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow. “I was a single mom and this is a way I bonded with my boys. When times weren’t so great we always could game on Friday nights and make the best of it with some pizza and good gaming.”

Shepherd recently learned her program won a grant to fund a new esports lab - a value of about $8,000 for five new gaming stations and accessories. The LBHS team is one of four schools in Texas to receive the grant sponsored by the Army National Guard, Asus and Intel. 

“This is humbling,” the esports coach said. “It’s exciting for my kids. It opens huge doors for my kids.”

Representatives from Generation E-Sports, which runs the High School E-Sports League, brought parts for the new computers and helped students build them last week.

Shepherd said the team and new lab will provide a place to belong for her students that may have not had one before. 

“This gives them a venue, a place to come to, a place to meet friends in real time,” she said. “This is going to teach kids to get along with others in person and not just be safely behind the mic. This is going to teach them what it means to be part of a team.” 

Participation could also be a launch pad for their futures, Shepherd said. 

“This team will give them a place to build friendships and compete at a level where they will hopefully have success to the point where they can get scholarships and learn about new careers,” she said. “There’s so much more to gaming than just the game itself. There’s broadcasting, there’s marketing. So hopefully it will open up a bunch of avenues these kids never dreamed of.”

The team currently has 38 students, but Shepherd expects those numbers to grow as she recruits and holds tryouts this summer. Practices and competitions will begin in the fall. 

“I’m just proud of them. I’m proud of them for sticking it out and having this dream and helping me with this and just being the people they are,” she said. “I can’t wait to see them grow in this program.”

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June 3, 2021