Women's History Month feature
The DISD will be sharing some Q&A interviews with female head coaches at John W. Bate Middle School and Danville High School during Women's History Month. Here, we're spotlighting Ashley Land.
Ashley Land is the head esports coach for both Danville High School and John W. Bate Middle School students. The Danville Independent School District asked her about how esports allows students from various backgrounds to come together with a common interest in gaming, and more.
Tell me a bit about your past experience as a coach, and as an esports player.
I grew up playing video games and computer games at home with my sisters. We always had a computer growing up where we playing a lot of RPG (role playing games). I also played video game consoles at friends’ houses growing up, which helps with a few of the games we offer for esports. This is my first coaching experience, but I have a great support system online to help with the various questions that I have for our matches.
What is special about the esports team? How does the team allow the students to come together and appreciate a common interest?
The team allows students of all sorts of backgrounds to have a common interest in games. Many of my players are on other competing teams (tennis, swimming, golf, theatre, academic team) for the high school. We have a relaxed schedule and give students the freedom of playing matches at home. We use Discord to communicate during matches, which allows us the freedom to keep in constant communication of how each match is going.
What about your team makes you most proud?
I'm super proud of how much work my players put into their games. Several of these players play in multiple matches over multiple days of the week, some lasting up to three hours. They also maintain their grades at respectable levels. I bring my toddler to practice and they are always so sweet and welcoming to him. They get so excited when he comes, which makes my kid excited to come. My husband comes sometimes too and brings snacks (which they love), and they are always grateful to him.
What qualities or values do you hope to instill in your team?
I really hope my players learn to work as a team and respect each other. Most people look at esports as just video games and don't view esports as a "real" sport, but students can earn scholarships and money for how they play. Most of the games we play require you to lean on the other players and communicate locations of opponents. Even in our Mario Kart races, they play as a team and have to communicate the various obstacles that can happen on the track.
In your opinion, what is the importance of representation for women in esports/gaming, particularly leadership positions?
All too often video games are seen as a "boys’" game. In my personal life, I was always underestimated about my game skills, by male friends, but then I would generally place at the top ranking of our games. Women in video games are generally portrayed as either overly feminine or very aggressive, which type casts females. Even the top players in the world are male. One of the top schools in the state at League is managed by a female coach, and I have asked her questions many times because she knows her stuff.
- Danville Independent Schools
- womens history month