Students make friends, earn college credits, play video games
Cameron Gratezka, a junior from Rocky Mountain High School (RMHS), is currently recruited to play video games in college.
Gratezka has been playing on the school’s esports team for about two and a half years, competing on the team that plays her favorite Rocket League game.
“It’s amazing to play on a team, to represent the school with something that I love,” Gratezka shared. “Playing with people who have become my best friends has given a whole new meaning to relationships with my teammates.”
For Gratezka, Rocket League is not just a video game, but also a sport. “I’m committed to it,” he said.
Gratezka discovered her passion when she was 4 years old. He never imagined that his hobby would later net him around $800 in scholarships.
“The stock market money is surreal,” said Gratezka, who believes esports is the future. “My parents and I never thought I would make money playing video games.”
Playing video games competitively teaches real-life skills, like communication and socializing. Gratezka felt compelled to play basketball initially, but knew his Rocket League team was in his place.
“I found my place,” he says.
The Rocky, Fort Collins High School, and PSD Futures Lab esports teams competed in the 2021 Colorado State Esports Tournament last December, where Rocky won first place. Some students who competed had never been on an esports team before.
“A stereotypical player is isolated from the world, but in esports everyone comes together to develop team and communication skills to win the game,” said Joe Baffoe, Futures Lab “Lab Rats” esports coach and manager. of the coding and development application at Laboratoire du futur. “It’s a skill students might not learn on their own.”
When students play together or compete against each other, they help each other grow.
As a self-proclaimed video game pro, Kaylea Mclane, a Fort Collins High School senior and Futures Lab student, is glad to have connected with more people.
“My favorite thing about the team is building relationships with people you don’t see often and learning how to communicate well with them,” Mclane said.
Mclane tried out for the team thinking it might be fun, especially since she and her family have always played video games together.
“Through this team, I made new friendships that became like family, playing video games together,” she said.
Noah Osborne, a senior at Poudre High School and a student at Futures Lab, said competing in the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate Finals during the state championship meant a lot to him.
Through this experience, Osborne learned that you should never let anything get in the way of your own success.
Originally, Osborne joined the Lab Rats team to bolster his video game skills. However, he learned that he would gain more than skills – he would gain friendships.