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Kalon Davis with esports students in The Pitch

Kalon Davis knows what it takes to be an athlete.

He was a starting offensive lineman for the Clemson Tigers between 2010-2014, and he founded the esports club at the university in South Carolina.

“When I was a student-athlete, esports was an escape,” says Mr. Davis, Director of Esports at Providence Day. “Now, I use it as my competitive outlet. It’s one of the benefits.”

(top) Kalon Davis working on esports computer and (below) student-design logo for keyboard-mouse pad

Mr. Davis established and is growing Providence Day’s esports presence, and for his efforts - he has more than 37 Upper School members - the Serving and Accrediting Independent Schools, or SAIS, and Institute of Athletic Directors asked him to speak at its meeting February 14 and 15 in Atlanta, Georgia.

He’ll cover the benefits of esports for schools and how to begin a program. Mr. Davis is the first person to present on esports to the national group.

“I’m excited,” Mr. Davis says. “Everyone is building their own program because we’re all kind of in this moment right now and learning as we go. Esports at Providence Day are trending in all the right directions. Now, at this conference, Providence Day will take center stage.”

Student-driven focus

Mr. Davis started in May of last year and established esports for those students who like gaming and to compete but didn’t have a platform.

“I wanted to build esports here for a lot of reasons: community building, leadership, mental health,” he says. “I try to explain to parents that there is a lot to gaming. It’s not just your kids sitting there playing games all day. It’s a sport. You have to take care of yourself just like you would if you were playing any sport.”

Davis says esports is one of the fastest-growing curriculums in the nation, and they expose students to coding, graphic design, critical thinking, multimedia production, communication, and teamwork. 

Students at Providence Day play esports at lunch and after school. Players also have three seasons to compete: fall, spring, and summer. Each season runs six to eight weeks. Teams play two official matches per week, plus meetings and practices, along with two in-person tournaments. 

The club is competing this spring and has the opportunity to win a title North Carolina will recognize as a state championship.

“The best motivation is the self-motivation of the kids,” says Mr. Davis, who wants to expand esports to Middle School next year. “Our active members are helping me build the program. The focus is student-driven. Students created the jerseys we wear - everything.” 

Gaming creates community

Ikenna Oriaku is one of Providence Day’s esports student leaders. The senior and Jayden Stuart started the Esports League last summer and created the school esports jersey, logo, and mousepads. He’s also a varsity captain of one of the teams.

“Playing games with my new friends allows me to decompress and enjoy my senior year,” Ikenna says. “I love being able to play my favorite games with my [Providence Day] community.”

Esports provide other benefits, too.

The esports market is valued at more than $1 billion, according to, becoming one of the fastest-growing markets in the gaming industry. There are more than 496 million esports fans worldwide, according to a Gitnux marketing report. 

In addition to that, there have been 1.2 million scholarships awarded in U.S. universities between 2016 and 2021 related specifically to esports activities – something which speaks volumes about how much potential this sector holds even at an educational level, according to a Gitnux report. 

“I would like esports at Providence Day to be a staple in Charlotte and North Carolina,” Mr. Davis says. “It’s becoming a traditional sport, and we want to be the ones who spearhead that. Our goal is to get ahead of the curve.”