Utterback Middle School in Tucson Introduces Esports Gaming Lounge, Breaking Barriers for Students

The addition of a cutting-edge Esports Gaming Lounge at Utterback Middle School in Tucson is revolutionizing the educational experience for students, offering a unique opportunity for growth and skill development.

Utterback Middle School, located on Tucson’s Southside, has been making significant strides in transforming its reputation and providing innovative opportunities for its students. The latest addition to the school’s offerings is an Esports Gaming Lounge, a state-of-the-art facility that aims to bridge the gap between education and gaming. Principal Taranika Sanders believes that providing a high-tech gaming lab in a high-poverty community is a testament to the school’s commitment to its students.

A Shift in Reputation

Utterback Middle School has been on a transformative journey, seeking to shed its previous reputation and create a more positive environment for its students. In the past year, the school achieved its first-ever “B” letter grade, showcasing the progress it has made. However, Principal Sanders acknowledges that there is still work to be done in terms of increasing enrollment. The of the Esports Gaming Lounge is seen as a step towards attracting families from all over Tucson, offering a unique and cutting-edge educational opportunity.

A Partnership with the University of Arizona

The Esports Gaming Lounge at Utterback Middle School is a result of a partnership with the University of Arizona. Through this collaboration, students have the chance to compete and receive feedback from college students, fostering a sense of mentorship and growth. Assistant Principal Riki Valdez, a sports enthusiast, expresses his excitement about the program and highlights the values of teamwork and communication that students can develop through esports.

Funding and Support

The high-tech gaming lounge has been made possible through the generous support of various sponsors and partners. The Bialis Family, Cox Communications, Tucson Electric Power, and the Educational Enrichment Foundation have all contributed to the funding of this innovative project. Their support ensures that students at Utterback Middle School have access to cutting-edge technology and resources that will enhance their learning experience.

Games and Expansion

The Esports Gaming Lounge offers students the opportunity to play a variety of games, including popular titles such as Rocket League, Minecraft, and Chess. Currently, the gaming lounge is utilized as a class for the Student Tech Team, but there are plans to expand its offerings to more classes and an after-school program. This expansion will allow even more students to engage with esports and benefit from the valuable skills and experiences it offers.

The Intersection of Sports and Esports

Zahtaya Johnson, a member of the Student Tech Team at Utterback Middle School, highlights the similarities between traditional sports and esports. She explains that both require teamwork, communication, and the ability to see different perspectives. Johnson finds esports to be a new and exciting challenge that complements her participation in other sports. The Esports Gaming Lounge provides students with a platform to develop these skills while also fostering a sense of camaraderie and learning from their peers.


The of the Esports Gaming Lounge at Utterback Middle School is a significant milestone in the school’s journey towards transformation and innovation. By providing students with access to cutting-edge technology and the opportunity to engage in esports, the school is breaking barriers and offering a unique educational experience. The partnership with the University of Arizona, along with the support of sponsors and partners, ensures that students have the resources they need to thrive in this rapidly evolving field. The Esports Gaming Lounge not only provides students with a platform for gaming but also fosters valuable skills such as teamwork, communication, and critical thinking. As Utterback Middle School continues to redefine its reputation, the Esports Gaming Lounge stands as a symbol of its commitment to providing a well-rounded education that prepares students for the future.






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