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Sioux City e-sports team brings out the competitiveness of gamers

Sioux City e-sports team brings out the competitiveness of gamers

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eSports at North High

Jett Lanagan talks about practicing strategy during eSports practice at Sioux City North High School.

Can you get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome through massive mouse usage?

That entered the mind of 10th grader Jack Coyle as he and other North High School Esports players discussed strategy in the middle of a spirited game of "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege."

"I imagine the worst injury for a gamer is hurting his hand or wrist," he said, rapidly tapping a computer mouse with one hand and a laptop keyboard with the other. "You won't injure yourself like in other sports but you can get hurt."

Coyle and crew are serious when it comes to computer games. Plus they're getting closer in making gaming a respectable high school sport.

GAMING BRINGS OUT A DIFFERENT SORT OF ATHLETE

eSports at North High

Jett Lanagan warms up on a game of Rainbow Six Siege during Esports practice at Sioux City North High School while Jordon Butler, left, Christian Rubio, and Jack Coyle, right, watch his performance.

That was Jose Ramirez's dream when he founded North's first Esports club about two years ago.

"I thought it would be fun to bring kids with a similar interest together," the 11th grader explained. "As the club grew bigger,  I figured we should start thinking in terms of tournaments."

This dream will soon become a reality since the Esports team recently accepted a $5,000 grant from the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation to purchase dedicated computers and Esports-friendly swag, according to adviser Travis Monk.

eSports at North High

Jack Coyle warms up on a game of Rainbow Six Siege while Jordan Butler, left, Davy Tran, and Cristian Rubio, right, discuss his performance.

"Not only will the students be able to host and participate in local tournaments, they'll be able to host and participate in tournaments across the country," he said. 

PLAYING VIDEO GAMES FOR SCHOLARSHIP MONEY? YES, PLEASE!

Wait, computer nerds playing video games are now considered athletes engaged in sporting events? That can't be on the level, right?

Well, believe it or not, it is.

More 170 colleges and universities currently participate in Esports, a form of competition involving video games.

eSports at North High COVER PHOTO

Cristian Rubio, right, discusses keyboard tactics with Jack Boyle during a game of Rainbow Six Siege in Esports practice at Sioux City North High School.

Plus there's money involved-- around $16 million in college scholarships.

According to National Public Radio, high schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia have formal Esports teams.

Just like their high school football counterparts, Esports members are busy running drills, developing strategy and reviewing game footage.

And nope, they're not playing "Super Mario Bros.," either.

eSports at North High

Jack Coyle, right, watches Davy Tran warm up on a game of Rainbow Six Siege during Esports practice at Sioux City North High School.

For North's Esports team, they prefer multiplayer online battle arena games like "League of Legends" or first-person shooter games like "Counter-Strike" or "Rainbow Six Siege."

EMBRACING YOUR INNER COUNTER-TERRORIST

Sophomore Davy Tran began warming up to "Rainbow Six Siege," after Coyle relinquished control.

Named after a fictional international counter-terrorist unit created by the late, best-selling author Tom Clancy, "Rainbow Six Siege" has each player assume control of an attacker or a defender in such game play modes as rescuing a hostage, defusing a bomb or executing other types of mission.

eSports at North High

Jordon Butler directs his player on the keys of a Dell gaming laptop in a game of Rainbow Six Siege during Esports practice at Sioux City North High School.

That's what the instructions say. To a non-gamer, it looks like a typical shoot 'em up.

"People have a misconception about shooter games celebrating violence," sophomore Jett Lanagan said. "If you're wired a certain way, gaming can be a bad thing. Most gamers don't think that way."

"I've playing games like since I was 4 or 5,' Tran admitted. "I'm certainly not violent."

THERE'S ALWAYS TIME TO DISS 'FORTNITE' PLAYERS

Coyle said his parents began letting him play nonviolent games by age 6  as well as more aggressive -- and profanity-laden games -- by age 11.

"I just turned the sound off so I wouldn't hear the swear words," he explained.  

As a high schooler, Coyle said he's fine with just about any video game. Um ... that is, with one glaring exception.