Hershey qualifies a student for state in the first year of the eSports Progam

Hershey High School
News 2 at Ten
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 10:53 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - In the 2022-23 school year, Hershey High School introduced its eSports Team. The NSAA introduced eSports as a sanctioned activity in the 2019 school year, and the Panthers are excited to finally be a part of the action.

The team was originally supposed to get its start during the 2021-22 school year, but they had to hold out one more year. However, even though the team wasn’t going to be able to compete last year, students still got together and began building their team culture and practicing together according to Head Coach, Jeff Brittenham.

“We tried to get our team going last year and we missed the deadline, but a lot of kids would come in and practice, and we kind of built some comradery and routine last year. And then this year when the competitions came, they were used to coming in on Tuesdays and doing the practices and hanging out and being a team together,” explains Brittenham.

In their first official year as a team, Brittenham says it has been a pretty successful start. The eSports calendar is broken down into three sections; fall, winter, and spring. During the team’s Fall Campaign, they were able to qualify one student for the State Tournament and had another individual and a Rocket League that were very close to qualifying as well.

The student that qualified for the State Tournament is Reagan Bender, who qualified for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Bender went 17-1 during the fall and is looking to make a splash at the State Tournament as Hershey’s first student to qualify.

“Yes, it’s an honor. This is the second time that I will be going to state for a school sporting activity, so I’m very excited. It’s the first time in Nebraska as well for any kind of event like this,” says Bender.

According to Bender, he’s been preparing in many different ways to compete for the state title. Some of the ways he’s been preparing include making sure he’s getting rested and keeping his grades in check, but some of his preparation is more mental.

“Just trying to relax before I eventually become stressed by this event. I want to know that I was in a mentally good place I can get myself back there so that that way I can compete at my top performance,” explains Bender.

The State Tournament is Friday and Saturday, October 18th and 19th at Hastings College.