SCRIBNER, Neb. (KMTV) — More Nebraska high schoolers are involved in an extracurricular activity where they play video games for sport.
The trend started at area colleges like Bellevue University and Midland University and now it's showing up at high schools statewide.
Some even have esports teams.
"I'm not too much of a social person, socializing isn't my favorite thing to do, and I have these guys now, so it's pretty easy now,” says Sam Standt, a junior and the only girl on the team.
Since Scribner-Snyder started their esports program last year, it's done a lot of things for the kids involved. That includes something you may not expect, improving social skills.
"They really were pretty introverted, pretty much into themselves, they had a few friends they would talk to, but I see them talking to everybody now,” says Linda Schafer, a Scribner-Snyder teacher, who sponsors the team.
But they're not just doing this to socialize, they're trying to win. They practice the game overwatch every weekday, playing mini-games, the sports equivalent of drills.
They're not just playing on their own, they're working together. Just like any sport, communication is key.
"These are kids communicating and problem solving in ways that I don't always see in the classroom,” says Schafer.
"If one person doesn't communicate, we don't know what we're doing." "If we don't communicate we're in a disadvantage,” says team captain, Noah Banks.
Scribner-Snyder is the equivalent of a D-2 school, by far the smallest school in their 12 team conference. But the team says that actually gives them an advantage over the other schools.
"With a bigger school, if you have so many kids it's hard to work together with everyone, but with us we're such a tight-knit people, we just know each other and know what we're going to do,” says Standt.
Program sponsor Linda Schafer says esports can lead to opportunities down the road. One student last year got offered a scholarship. Plus there's career opportunities in the always growing gaming world.
"When I was younger and playing this my mother, she'd always be like, 'you need to do other stuff, this won't get you anywhere."
"And now I can go and tell her and be like I can actually go somewhere with this,” says Standt.
Despite some saying otherwise, the team agrees, esports is a sport.
"It's teamwork, it's communication, it's exactly what another sport would be, so we're just like them,” says Banks.
The students also get out of town help. An athlete on the Midland University teams stops by from time to time to offer coaching to all involved.
The team hopes to qualify for the state tournament in York later this year.