Shenandoah University esports arena set to open in August

shenandoah universityShenandoah University is building a new state-of-the-art esports arena that will not only accommodate the school’s esports program, but also the sport’s growing popularity and upcoming launch into Virginia public high schools.

On Tuesday, July 9, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) announced that, in conjunction with PlayVS, it will launch a one-year esports pilot program in Virginia public high schools for the 2019-20 school year.

Shenandoah’s new esports arena will accommodate this growing demand in the region. It will serve as both a practice facility for its 35-member varsity team and as a public esports venue where spectators can watch weekly matches. The arena will also help students in the new Bachelor of Science in esports with hands-on learning experiences in management and media and communications.

“There are only a few schools around the country that can offer students and the community this kind of unique experience,” said Director of Esports Joey Gawrysiak, Ph.D. “With esports continuing to grow at the professional, collegiate and high school levels, this arena will be a landmark for esports in the area. We are looking forward to offering the use of this facility to not just students from Shenandoah, but also to high school students from around Virginia as a great competition arena for them to showcase their skills with the launch of the VHSL esports program.”

The 1,571-square-foot space is located in the unused armory on Shenandoah’s main campus. It will feature 12 competitor stations, a 21-inch stage, 70 spectator seats, a broadcasting booth, and three 12-foot projector screens on three walls. The arena will be mobile, meaning the equipment will be able to be packed up and taken on the road for matches and events off campus.

Shenandoah is partnering with Logitech International to supply some of the equipment. The project will be completed in August.

Gawrysiak is helping VHSL launch its esports pilot program statewide. He serves in an advisory capacity for both the organization and a 36-member executive committee of Virginia high school administrators and athletic directors. As a result of this partnership, Shenandoah may host the first-ever high school esports state invitational championship in Virginia in the coming year.

“Obviously, it’s very attractive with the new arena and our partnership with them,” said Darrell Wilson, assistant director for activities at VHSL. “Joey’s knowledge base and passion is huge and it’s helping us.”


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