Category: Entertainment

Mariachis strive for excellence

Mariachis strive for excellence

By Jason Reyes
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

Often performing at celebrations, the Mariachi Internacional took the opportunity to perform at Discover TAMIU to represent Hispanic culture.

“We kind of want people to see that [Texas A&M International University] has mariachis and has that Mexican culture,” lead vocalist and trumpet player Danny Perez said. “The mariachis represents Mexican tradition and values.”

 Along with performing at Discover TAMIU, the mariachis expected to take part in the upcoming mariachi festival originally scheduled for Apr. 23. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that event is most likely canceled.

“Mariachi does play a big part in TAMIU because it is a part of the Mexican culture, and the Mexican culture is the biggest culture here,” violist Angela Carranza said.

Mariachi Internacional is led by Director Oswaldo Zapata and consists of music students, and those from other disciplines, wanting to learn more of the musical side of South Texas culture.

“One of the biggest events we are having is called Sonidos de Mexico and it is going to be by concert,” Perez said. “We’re going to have all these workshops where different kids from different high schools come and work with this professional mariachi, one of the best mariachis in the world, named Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan.”

The TAMIU mariachis pride themselves in their Hispanic background.

“We always try to go to events that promote Mexican culture, such as El Grito,” Perez said. “El Grito is an event the [mariachis] have been performing for the longest time and it’s always trying to spread that Mexican culture and legacy [they] want to leave. It started back in 1980 and now it’s just growing every single year.”

These mariachis also take pride in their performances, working to ensure audiences remain engaged.

“The thing that I love about performing is when I look at people and they are smiling,” Perez said, “because it reminds them of their childhood or that nostalgia of growing up with mariachi music … It brightens their day.”


Level up at LVL 2 Gaming

Level up at LVL 2 Gaming

By Ruben Reyes
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

LVL 2 Gaming offers experiences in trading cards, video games and more for its customers. The store features numerous tournaments and events.

From all kinds of video games, LVL 2 Gaming capitalizes on Laredo’s competitive gaming culture.

Regular patron Gregorio Resendez said LVL 2 Gaming gave him the opportunity to interact with more people and gain new hobby experiences.

“I didn’t live near any gaming stores, so my friends and I wouldn’t really have spots to hang outside of school,” Resendez said. 

Esports currently make considerable profit. LVL 2 Gaming hopes to keep improving the quality of entertainment and competition for its customers. The business hosts weekly tournaments for “Super Smash Bros.” and “Dragon Ball Z: Fighters” with small prize pools added as an incentive for players to join. It sparked an interest in tabletop gaming as well; Dungeons & Dragons sessions are held weekly at the store.

Co-owner Jesus Moreno said opening the business meant a lot to him.

“It was hard at first, but this was always a dream of mine as a kid,” Moreno said. “I used to walk into game shops at the mall and wished that one day I’d have a business of my own. I dedicated my adult life to business and my dream finally came true.”


Rise of esports at TAMIU

Rise of esports at TAMIU

By Ruben Reyes
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

The TAMIU Smash Club is composed of students who play “Super Smash Bros.” for relaxation and competition.

Over the course of the semester, students formed bonds, thus enhancing the college experience for most. Management information systems major Luis Arriaga said his studies of networking exceeded his expectations in the TAMIU Smash Club.

“I want to have events that bring competitors from around the United States to [Texas A&M International University] and compete with our local Smash players,” Arriaga said.

Arriaga hopes to persuade TAMIU into looking at programs or scholarships for esports.

“TAMIU lags a little behind, but recently, the TAMIU [Recreational Sports Center] bought three gaming monitors and a Nintendo Switch … so there’s definitely support from the staff for gaming.”

    Arriaga’s passion for gaming comes from his love for competition. In recent years, esports continues to grow all over the world due to famous titles such as, “League of Legends,” “Fortnite” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.” These video game titles all share one trait in common: competition.

According to the Esports Ecosystems Report 2020, the esports market will likely surpass $1.5 billion in revenue by 2023. U.S. cities build esports arenas for tournaments. Esports gained mainstream media attention around the world. It’s an activity anyone can easily compete in, or spectate.

“As long as there are figureheads in the community, there is a chance that esports could grow into a prominent culture in any university,” Arriaga said.

Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez is well known within the “Super Smash Bros.” community. Lopez is one of the notable players who inspires many people to enter “Super Smash Bros.” tournaments around the world. He is a player who continues to dominate the “Super Smash Bros.” competitive scene by consistently taking major tournaments with prizes ranging up to thousands of dollars.

Arriaga embraces the passion for the “Super Smash Bros.” community on campus and hopes more interest will come in the future. Arriaga hosted several tournaments, including a few approved by TAMIU. The club hosted the Battle at the Border tournament in late July 2019. The tournament was stacked with more than 120 players in attendance, including talent from Arkansas and Honduras, competing for a grand prize of $600.

The success of the TAMIU Smash Club inspired various students to create more organizations of their own for esports. Students voiced interest in creating clubs for other games, such as “League of Legends” and “Overwatch.”

The TAMIU Smash Club participated in a collegiate league in early 2019. Gavin “Cosmic” Gonzalez traveled with TAMIU Smash.

“Playing in the collegiate team was, honestly, a very fun experience,” Gonzalez said. “It felt just as if I was competing in another sport. Being able to represent my school along with traveling with good friends to these events—definitely something I’m going to remember.”

As one of the team’s dominant players, he eliminated nearly every member of Schreiner University’s team during the collegiate crew battles against other Texas universities.

“Having to come up with strategies and changing our lines up on the fly, to beat whoever we were up against, is something that I thoroughly enjoyed,” Gonzalez said. “Having your team and spectators cheer your team on was also a nice feeling.”

Arriaga hopes campus esports will take off to never-before-seen heights. Esports is something he believes should not be ignored or skimmed over and should be treated equally to traditional sports.

“Esports is easier to get into than many other sports but it’s just as hard to master, so we can see greater interest from people to enter esports at TAMIU due to the accessibility, compared to other sports,” Arriaga said.

Arriaga remains optimistic that TAMIU will continue to support the esports community and the TAMIU Smash Club for more semesters to come.


Students showcase talents during WBCA youth festival

Students showcase talents during WBCA youth festival

By Vanessa Santos
Bridge Contributing Writer
Published March 30, 2020

Some of Laredo’s most talented voices and dancers performed in the WBCA Youth Song and Dance Festival to celebrate Washington’s Birthday Celebration.

This event was sponsored by IBC Bank on Feb. 8 at the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Fine Arts Theater at Laredo College.

“I love to bring my family to these events to show them the importance of supporting our local talents,” Juan Jose Garcia said.

Garcia attended the Washington Celebration events each year since his childhood. His mother and father brought him to these events, which he said he loves and wants to pass on that tradition to his own children.

Parents provided support to their performing children by wearing their child’s school shirt and cheering them on while on stage.

“This is my second time performing and I like to see my mom so excited when I am dancing,” young DD Hachar Elementary School dancer Tessa Garza said.

In addition to Laredo talent, IBC granted two high school seniors a $1,000 academic scholarship. Esmeralda Hernandez and Juan Capetillo were selected based on their community involvement, academic merits and extracurricular activities.

One of five children in her household, Hernandez attends Hector J. Garcia Early College High School, currently ranked No. 26 in her class with an “A” GPA. She is an active member of the Newspaper Club and is a volunteer at the library. Esmeralda has been involved in the SCANN Program, Chick-fil-A Academy, National Honor Society and Border Patrol Program. She plans to attend Texas A&M International University to pursue a degree in environmental science and botany.

Capetillo is from Dr. Leonides G. Cigarroa High School, ranked No. 18 in his school with a current GPA of 4.0. He is involved in orchestra, VMT mariachi, the CHS Mariachi and all-region Mariachi members, and plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio to pursue a degree in music education and history.

“Having community involvement shape the minds of our young students might just make a difference in Laredo’s future,” mother of two Grecia Tello said.

Tello said she teaches her two children, ages 5 and 7, that community involvement is the essential role to success and, “It has been proven today.”

Apart from the $1,000 scholarships, there were five schools awarded $300 donations courtesy of IBC. The schools included: Prada Elementary Dance Team, F.D. Roosevelt Elementary Cheer Team, St. Augustine High School, San Isidro Elementary Raptorettes and Martin High School Cheer.

The WBCA Youth and Dance Festival brought many talent groups from dancers to cheerleaders to show their talents. The Washington Birthday Celebration was founded in 1898 and continues to grow to be a month-long celebration.

After six whole weeks of events throughout the city, the festivities came to a close with the big , bright fireworks diplay on Feb. 29, leap year day. WBCA’s way of ending the annual events with a bang.

As of now, there is no word regarding next year’s plans.


Esports on campus gets life of its own

Esports on campus gets life of its own

By David Gomez Jr.
Published March 30, 2020

One campus group of student gamers, TAMIU Smash, is making more than a name for itself, as its members bring change to the campus.

Club President Luis Arriaga plays and practices “Super Smash Bros.” at Texas A&M International University; this is one type of esports fighting games he plays both competitively and non-competitively.

TAMIU Smash hosted two huge tournaments in the past which brought in people from the surrounding area to Texas.

“We were able to draw the attention of gamers from Arkansas and even Honduras to come to our tournaments,” Arriaga said. “The max[imum number] of people we have held was around 153 players from all over.”

Leonard Gonzalez | Bridge
Students finish a match of “Super Smash Bros.” on Feb. 26 in the TAMIU game room.

Since then, the University gave the Dusty Den game room some leeway in terms of funding. Dusty Den officials purchased some game systems in light of esports popularity.

“The game room is part of rec[reational sports] … some new things we have added are gaming chairs, Nintendo DS and Switch,” recreational sports employee and senior double major in communication and psychology Tania Jauregui said.

“And sooner, we’ll be getting some Playstations and Xboxes.”

Arriaga said three new game monitors set in the Dusty Den at $500 apiece. These 240 hertz, 1 millisecond monitors help keep eyes relaxed and focused.

Slowly, but surely, esports is catching the eyes and ears, of the campus gaming community—especially Smash Club.

“We are looking to recruit more members because every time we host [a tournament], or afterward, I get people coming up to me [who] say, ‘I didn’t know we had gaming tournaments’ or ‘I didn’t know TAMIU had this club on campus,’” Arriaga said.

He also mentioned that “Super Smash Bros.” isn’t the only game played. TAMIU Smash also plays with past “Super Smash Bros.” games, “Luigi’s Mansion” and the latest Nintendo frenzy—”Animal Crossing.”

“We’ve broken the walls really quick here [at TAMIU],” he said about esports getting its fair share and continued growth.

The next big tournament will be on July 18 and they plan on having more than 200 competitors.


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