Partnering to make kids’ dreams come true

Partnering to make kids’ dreams come true

Partnering to make kids’ dreams come true 1200 800 Greg Bodzioch

E-Sports has been a journey, an exciting rollercoaster at times, but most importantly a dream come true for myself and my family – seeing and being a part of so many kids’ and parents’ lives impacted incredibly by our amazing volunteers (coaches, admin folks, other parents) over many, many years on soccer fields, basketball courts, etc! A big part of what has made it even more special for myself and the kids involved has been the incredible relationships and partnerships that have developed as we have collaborated with the San Jose Earthquakes and Golden State Warriors over the past years.

I remember literally 20 years ago now when I dreamed that maybe, someday, the San Jose Earthquakes would “offer to let us use their stadium” to do E-Soccer for the community (mind you, at the time their home stadium was Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University) to do E-Soccer for the community. Through a series of special relationships forming and building over many years between E-Soccer and the Quakes’ staff and coaches, it actually happened! And not only did it happen, but now we have done multiple “E-Soccer Quakes Days” at PayPal Park over the past 5-6 years working alongside the Quakes staff and Academy players.

In 2020 the Quakes, Special Olympics Northern California, and E-Soccer began working together to build a San Jose Earthquakes “Unified Team” (an inclusive team of 18-24 year olds of all abilities). It’s been an honor and privilege to coach the team in their first couple seasons along with a small group of our incredible E-Soccer coaches participating as typical partners/players. We are looking forward to this new 2024 season!

Where did it all began with the Warriors? One day in 2015 I got a call “out of the blue” from a guy named Nick, one of the Golden State Warriors staff. He had heard about our E-Hoops inclusive basketball programs around the Bay Area and was curious if we could collaborate and do something together with the Warriors. There began what has become another incredible journey of collaboration with the amazing staff at the Warriors.

We have had the privilege of doing E-Hoops halftime and “primetime” scrimmages at Warriors games for multiple seasons now. Then on January 27, 2023 marked a new chapter in E-Hoops history as we had the special opportunity to run multiple, full E-Hoops sessions at Chase Center a few hours before the Warriors game, receive a personal talk with the kids from assistant coach Ron Adams, do an E-Hoops scrimmage on court right before the game, do the honorary bell ringing at center court, and even get a shout-out on the evening news on TV!

What has so impressed me with both the Earthquakes and Warriors staff with whom I’ve been blessed to work is their genuine desire to learn from us how to best “include” all our families in the experiences/events we have planned and executed together over the years. Both organizations and the incredible individuals I’ve gotten to work alongside there have been a joy to work with.

About the author

Greg Bodzioch

Greg is the co-founder and director of E-Sports. In 2000, Greg and longtime friend Russ Ewell started the first E-Soccer program. He has led E-Sports to grow to over 1,000 kids participating annually in multiple sports programs around the Bay Area and internationally.

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