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Bronco Esports Team Wins State Championship

Administrators at Lake Belton High School are making room in the school’s trophy case after the Bronco Esports APEX Legend Red team won a state championship last month.

The Bronco team — consisting of seniors Dylan Klunk and Caden Rice and junior Aiden Scammell — edged out 82 other APEX teams to remain undefeated during Vanta’s Texas Esports League that began last fall.

Coach Kristie Shepherd said the win represents almost 200 hours of practice time. 

“It was a great season, and this win was just icing on the cake,” Shepherd said. “I’m really proud of their determination and dedication to each other and getting better at each competition.”

Klunk said being LBHS’ first state champion in esports is meaningful.

“It was definitely a big feat for us,” he said. “I never thought when I started my high school career it would be something I did, but I was very excited about it and proud of the work we had done.”   

Scammell, a second-year team member, enjoyed getting to know his teammates this season.

“We knew each other but we weren’t close,” he said. “Now we’re really good friends who talk more and really rely on each other when it comes to competitive games. It makes it 100% easier when you can trust someone. We could have done better, even with a perfect 3-0 in both games, but having teammates like these two makes it worth it.”

Shepherd started the school’s esports program three years ago. It now includes 29 students competing in five games across three different leagues.

She said esports is an ideal way for students to practice the six competencies — perseverance, adaptability, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and empathy — that the Big Red Community identified in 2021 as aspirational for students in Belton ISD. Collectively, the competencies are referred to as the district’s Journey of a Graduate.

“Our players have developed better communication skills. It’s key to having a successful team,” Shepherd said. “As they play, they are in constant communication to navigate and strategically place and play their players. The games automatically lend to these competencies. And definitely perseverance in tournaments that may last 2-3 hours.”

Shepherd, a gamer going back to the days of Atari, is happy to volunteer her time to support these students.

“I relate to these kids so much and understand the draw to these games,” she said. “I love seeing a group of kids that sometimes don’t get to be involved have a platform, a voice, a new door to opportunities that they didn’t know existed.”

Scammell said winning the state championship is garnering the team members lots of interest from colleges. He hopes to continue esports in college as he studies something in the computer field — computer science, cybersecurity/networking, or software development.

“We, as a team, really appreciate everything we have and everyone who supports us,” he said. “We plan to get better and do it again next season.”

Jan. 10, 2023