INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTHI) – A unique partnership has formed between video gaming and Indiana’s military. The Indiana National Guard has partnered with the Indiana High School Esports Network.

Esports is something that’s gaining popularity and growing rapidly in the state of Indiana from the pro ranks all the way down to the high school level. It’s even caught the attention of the military. 

News 10 caught up with the co-founder of the IHSEN John Robertson. He says this started as just a side gig run by full-time teachers to bring Esports to every high school in Indiana.

There were 14 teams the first season involved with the IHSEN. Now, there are 44 schools involved across Indiana. 

“It’s not just a bunch of guys sitting around goofing off playing games,” Robertson said, “We’re trying to bring actual skills and real sport to these kids.”

“We say that in Esports, you learn 21st-century skills,” Robertson continued, “You learn teamwork as well as the hand-eye coordination and reaction and all that stuff so there are multiple things that they’re learning.”

Sergeant Steven Smith of the Indiana National Guard’s marketing team agrees. He says after visiting an Esports summit in Washington D.C. back in October 2019, he knew this partnership would benefit both sides. He says the skills these kids have are exactly what the army is looking for. He says they are especially well versed in the STEM area and robotics.

“It’s getting into a wide range of technological advances that we need their skills,” Smith said.

Both organizations feel this partnership will be mutually beneficial in the future and help Indiana’s youth along the way.

“Having someone like the army national guard who believes in what we’re doing and is promoting it through different avenues is huge,” Robertson said, “If they see value in it, hopefully, parents and administrators see the value in a school as well.”

“It gives us another avenue to get someone on one face time with students and coaches and talk about the benefits we have to offer these young adults,” Sgt. Smith concluded.

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