The eldest son, Keegan Abley, 10, earned first place in the Trading Card Game (TCG) Juniors and earned the title of 2012 Pokemon Autumn Regional Champion at a competition Oct. 13 and 14 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The fifth-grade student at Bright Star Elementary School is a seasoned Pokemon card game player, and has competed for seven years.
“Keegan has been playing since he was 3 years old,” said his mother, Jennifer. “My husband, Craig, and I both played, and he would sit in our lap and since he couldn’t read yet, he would memorize the cards. He then began to play competitively.”
Pokemon was launched in Japan in 1996 as an animated TV series, video gaming and trading card franchise which features “pocket monsters” who can be trained to fight.
Keegan describes Pokemon as “animals from the world that are converted into a cartoonish way.”
His personal favorite Pokemon is Squirtle — a turtle.
He is not the only of the four Abley children to play the game.
Brothers Haidyn, 9, a fourth-grader, and Logahn, 6, a second-grader at Bright Star Elementary, and sister, Elizah, 5, in first grade at Chapel Hill Christian School, have followed in playing the family’s card game of choice.
Haidyn took eighth place and Logahn took 26th in the Autumn Regional Championship in the Junior category for ages 10 and under.
“At local games,” said their mother, “the boys can be found at the top tables and play against each other.”
As regional champion, Keegan will represent the Southwest at the 2013 U.S. Pokemon National Championship next summer.
His competitive Pokemon playing has afforded many travel opportunities for the 10-year-old.
“My most exciting tournament was going to Hawaii,” he said. “This year’s will be in Vancouver. What I want to accomplish is to win the world’s.”
He hopes that his performance at the national competition next summer will earn him a spot in the 2013 Pokemon World Championship in Vancouver, Canada, in August.
“I play the game to have fun and relax from school and meet new people,” said the fifth-grader.
“I think more people should play because it helps with academics. I know how to strategize and think critically.”
He said he thinks playing Pokemon has helped developed his social skills as well.
“It helps socially because it takes away a person’s shyness,” Keegan explained.
“It’s a mental game,” his mother added. “From a parent’s standpoint, it has really helped our children with reading and math skills, along with critical thinking skills and making decisions.”