Inglewood Mayor James Butts cuts the ribbon to open the eSports lab at Morningside high school (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation, Extra Yard for Teachers, continues to leave its mark by creating an eSports lab at Morningside high school.

“In Inglewood, we’ve evolved a lot in the last seven years,” said Inglewood mayor James Butts. “I want to tell you how much we appreciate this eSports Technology Center because it combines the things that attract the attention of our young people with technology and learning.”

The lab is equipped with 20 gaming computers, a teaching area, and a viewing area so spectators can watch tournaments. The Lab was designed by School Specialty, a classroom furniture company.

“This new generation, the brick-and-mortar and the core subjects don’t attract them,” said Morningside assistant principal Mary Spruce. “But stuff like this, gaming and stuff, I look to this to be the engagement piece that reignites a certain joy.”

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Extra Yard For Teachers also recently partnered with the LA84 Foundation to give grants to 46 local teachers. The CFP Foundation has more Extra Yard Makeovers like the eSports lab throughout the Los Angeles area. This was a special moment for CFP Foundation executive director Britton Banowsky, who is a native of Inglewood.

“We invest a lot of our time and energy and resources to make sure teachers across the country are supported,” Banowsky said. “This project is about a $250,000 project, this doesn’t happen without that amazing support.”

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Morningside students played games against school administrators and other attendees.

“What I heard was laughter, what I heard was connectivity, what I saw was joy,” said LA84 Foundation president and CEO Renata Simril. “That is what I’m so grateful for leading the LA84 Foundation and the Play Equity Fund is to be able to listen to what our educators and our students need and to be able to direct the much needed resources and support.”

School administrators competed against Morningside students (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Inglewood Unified School District aims to base its academic curriculum on the passions of its students with initiatives like the eSports lab and the Career Technical Education Program.

“I never really thought that niche stuff like this was ever really considered in the educational environment,” said Morningside senior Joshua Jackson. “This is really heading in the right direction.”

Being involved in eSports could lead to careers in digital marketing, business administration, and eSports events management.  Yasmine Joyner and Kristian Tellez are the teachers of the Esports program at Morningside. Tellez is sponsored by his alma mater, Cal State Dominguez Hills, to teach the students.

“It’s beautiful to see something like this come together,” Tellez said. “These kids really need an outlet, they get stressed out a lot at school so this is a perfect place to come let it out.”