National Youth Games Organization to Open Arlington Facility
5 mins read

National Youth Games Organization to Open Arlington Facility

Five years ago, Joseph Aguilar had trouble finding a good esports team.

The local Overwatch player had already been playing for four years when he began looking for more competitive opportunities in 2019. Despite his best efforts, most esports teams were made up of college-age players, and Aguilar — a high school student at the time — said he couldn’t find the right fit.

“Finding a team was difficult because a lot of teams didn’t want to take younger players,” Aguilar said.

The Mansfield native wants to be part of the solution. He aspires to become a coach in the XP League, a national gaming league for kids ages 8-17. The organization will hold a grand opening for its new Arlington center July 20 at 3 p.m. at 3610 W. Pioneer Parkway, Unit 201. The league offers a range of games, including Overwatch 2, Fortnite, Valorant and Rocket League.

The new location, located in Pantego near West Arlington, joins three other locations in North Texas: in Frisco, Preston Hollow and the recently opened location in Garland.

XP League is owned and operated by Unleashed Brands, a company that operates brands dedicated to youth activities, including martial arts, trampoline parks and education. The organization’s gaming division promotes itself as a safe and nurturing environment for children to develop their gaming skills.

“Not only do parents shop with their membership, but their kids are having a great time, they’re in a safe environment and they’re learning a variety of life skills that they can use at home,” said Irving Mendez, franchise owner of the Arlington location.

Mendez works in construction by trade. He and his wife had been looking for other opportunities for the past year and began talking to an XP League franchise recruiter in October.

The Arlington native currently has one coach on staff and has sought others in the college system, most notably through the esports team at the University of Texas at Arlington. The team has enjoyed national success, even earning a grand championship at the 2022 Federation of Electronic Gaming National Championships.

The gaming industry isn’t just confined to the Tarrant County college scene. Dickies Arena will host the Fortnite Battle Royale Global Championship and Rocket League World Championship in September.

“It’s just mind-blowing that (esports) is pretty big outside of us,” Mendez said. “I’m very grateful and happy to be able to jump into it here, at an early stage in Arlington.”

More than just games

The XP League logo sign at its new headquarters in Arlington. (Photo courtesy of | Irving Mendez)

Mendez found opening an XP League franchise to be very feasible. According to Unleashed Brands, franchise costs include a $35,000 franchise fee and the possibility of investing between $190,750 and $332,000 in a physical location.

As a former player, however, Mendez said the organization’s main strength is its community-based nature.

“I found the XP League to be more rewarding. Not only does it give me something, but it also gives back to the community,” Mendez said.

XP League is currently the only youth esports organization to partner with the Positive Coaching Alliance, a national organization promoting positive sports experiences for youth through coaching.

As part of the partnership, XP League coaches are required to become Double Goal Coaches, which means focusing on two goals – winning and life lessons.

Saurabh Aggarwal, co-founder and managing director of XP League’s Frisco chapter, said the multifaceted nature of coaching in XP League helps with recruiting. Professional gaming still has a stigma about not being mainstream or academic, so promoting life skills helps convince parents to let their kids join.

“It’s not just games. Kids can learn a lot, they can learn leadership skills, communication skills, cooperation skills,” Aggarwal said.

Aguilar is still in talks with the XP League, but he’s found coaching to be a fun path in the gaming world. He’s currently captaining the UT-Arlington Overwatch team and has coached his teammates. Soon, Aguilar hopes to help others play the game he’s loved for eight years.

“From everything I’ve heard about the XP League and the conversations I’ve had with the owner, it’s going to be a really good opportunity for kids, not just high school kids but kids a little younger, to get involved in these competitive systems and enjoy that aspect of competition,” he said.

Ismael M. Belkoura is a reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at [email protected]. At Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of board members and financial sponsors. Read more about our editorial independence policy Here.

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