The LAN Network – New Chapter: CyberSecurity

Since our inception back in 2004 – TLN has always been focused on two things – EDUCATION and TECHNOLOGY as their roots. We are very excited to continue to build and grow our legacy of contributing to the cross section of technology and education as they apply to helping bring people’s passion in what they do to the forefront.

Rick Barretto the co-owner of TLN along with his wife Cara, routinely says “He has never worked a day in his life” because all of his business interests and companies are with and about things he is passionate about – Video Games and Technology Invention/innovation. He has used his passion to make a positive difference in the world to transform TLN with a rich history in technology and gaming to chart a course for the future in CyberSecurity.

In 2020 the world changed with COVID and as a result so too, did the needs of their 501c3 Nonprofit organization – Video Game Palooza (dba Hope Training Academy). COVID prohibited their 3 brick and mortar schools from opening so they created an entire online curriculum for IT and CyberSecurity training for their students.

Also in 2019/2020 the US Department of Labor has cited that “…CyberSecurity and related fields are the #1 most in demand job occupations in the HISTORY of the United States”.

With a growing number of students being trained in their Hope Training Academy in CyberSecurity (hundreds of this writing) paired with their recent award from the United States Department of Labor with a FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED CyberSecurity Apprenticeship program (see picture) he decided to pivot TLN from esports/gaming to CyberSecurity because of obvious need in the economy for both services, talent and labor.

TLN has been transformed to a powerful new CyberSecurity services and educational organization that is employing the next generation of CyberSecurity professional and delivering much needed services to companies across the United States.

The tie back to our roots in technology and gaming is unique and very relevant. ALL video game esports events even back in 2011 and 2012 are on “Local Area” and “Wide Area” networks with all of the gaming PCs and XBOX/PlayStation Consoles.

Even back in 2012 when Rick designed a robust HD streaming broadcast network infrastructure in his own “Gaming House” he realized the need for Cyber Security. Because of the immense amount of video and internet traffic who at the time were watching the top Halo teams in the world compete at TLN – he had MANY Cyber Attacks and Intrusions during the broadcast of the TLN video streams that had to be dealt with and mitigated. It ended up – due to hackers who took down the streams during one of the events – additional CyberSecurity measures had to be implemented to counteract the malicious hackers so the broadcast could continue smoothly. We are proud to continue supporting our TLN esports team and will continue doing so into the future.

The Original TLN esports website is still kept up and maintained as it originally was when HALO was still the #1 esports game in the world. It is a piece of esports history and can be seen at – when we have a chance, we intend on reviving the rich esports history of TLN when the time is right.

TLN = esports History
The LAN Network was started back in 2004/2005 as one of the first ever esports training and education “Gaming Houses” in Chicago, IL by the Penacchio family. Joe “Mr. P” Pennacchio and his son Anthony “Totz” Pennacchio (who is now is a retired professional Halo player. He is well known for his time on Triggers Down and Status Quo.)

Many esports legends (NINJA’s) ROOTS
Many of the early “modern legends” of esports got their start training at and with TLN at the Gamer House and on its first teams including Tyler “NINJA” Blevins of international Fortnite Fame, Tom “TSquared” Taylor and many others incredible esports Halo legends!

Since November 2009, The LAN Network provided unique and revolutionary gaming content and many firsts in esports through its website (now at TLN was one of the first esports communities (focused on Halo) to have live streaming from inside the gamer house, interviews with professional players and teams as well as coverage from every Halo tournament. In particular, TLN launched the first esports Fantasy League program. With an incredibly simple drafting system and comprehensive scoring that attempts to quantify the impact of Halo players in all facets of the game.


MLG National Champions
The TLN “Gamer House” produced the most dominant esports professional teams (for Halo) in the world. In 2007-2009, 2010 and 2011 teams “Trained and Educated” in the TLN Gamer House were crowned Major League Gaming (MLG) National Champions.

2011 TLN in flux
In December, 2011 when “Mr. P” and the Penacchio family decided to shut down TLN and “The Gamer House” because of Anthony’s “retirement” from esports (due to going to school) it was a bittersweet day because of all the memories, esports awards and history that were made during their tenure owning TLN. Joe also did not necessarily “need” a second house that was dedicated to Halo professional teams – in part also because the main “FLAGSHIP” game for TLN and all the teams they trained was HALO and the game was rapidly declining in popularity. f the TLN Gamer House were crowned Major League Gaming (MLG) National Champions.

In 2012 Halo 4 was released and got very stiff competition from Call of Duty and many other blockbuster titles. The “masses” started going away from Halo and so closed the first chapter for TLN.

Check out the in-depth History of HALO as it relates to competitive esports here:


2012 TLN New Beginnings – Rick Barretto & Family
In 2011, Rob Frayer (Invictus) was a semi-professional Halo player living in Indianapolis and practicing hard at TLN to become one of the next “BIG STAR” Halo players. Once Rob heard about the news of the forthcoming closure of his beloved TLN he took action. Through a series of connections he got connected with Rick Barretto who is a serial entrepreneur and tech/gaming inventor (who would later be inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame in 2019) about TLN…it needed HELP!! The entire HALO and TLN community did not want to close their beloved TLN – which to the credit of the Penacchio family had created a “FAMILY” oriented esports gaming culture.

Rick – always looking to the next big horizon had never heard of “esports” back in 2011 and did some investigation. After speaking with Joe and the Penacchio family – he decided to purchase TLN to keep it alive and move it to Indianapolis. Rick always admits he had “no idea” what he was getting into and thought the concept of esports (video games, competition and family) sounded very interesting and mirrored his own interests and passions over the years.

Rick and his wife Cara were also getting married in June of 2012 so when he told Cara that we have a big GAMING emergency. 4 or 5 of the top Halo teams had NOWHERE TO PRACTICE and to prepare for a big HALO Tournament in Columbus Ohio so he had purchased a new company and invited all the players to come live with them at the “NEW” Gamer House in Carmel, IN. Cara was THRILLED to say the least

In January, 2012 Rob and Rick rented a large truck to go to Chicago and load all the computer and gaming equipment (20 XBOX setups) to Carmel, IN. Rick and Rob still remember driving in blizzard like conditions to and back from Chicago and happy they made it back safely. It then took Rick about 6 months to TRANSFORM one of the spare rooms in their home to the “NEW” LAN Network. Rick who has had 20+ years in IT, Computers, Networking, Software, Security, Programming, Video Streaming and gaming was right in his “element” moving this massive amount of technology from IL to IN and getting everything set up before the new HOUSE GUESTS arrived to live with them for a couple weeks!

Rick & Cara were married June 23, 2012 and had a wonderful wedding with lots of guests at their home reception in their back yard. They went on a honeymoon and when they got back – most of the top professional Halo players in the WORLD were coming from all over the country to LIVE WITH THEM in the middle of July, 2012 to prepare for their tournament at the “NEW” TLN House.

All of the pro players were very polite and very well mannered. It was a pleasure to host them in our home for a week or two. One of the very best players in the “Halo” era was Tyler “Ninja” Blevins! It turned out that about 5 years AFTER Ninja “Trained” at the Barretto version of the TLN house while he was a Halo Star in 2017 the game Fortnite came out and Ninja was in the right place at the right time!

Ninja’s Meteoric Rise as International esports Star

to know while living with them at the TLN Gamer House – which helped him catapult his video game career




TLN – The Next Chapter
As the companies that Rick & Cara own and manage continue to grow and thrive over the years, the main thing that they have focused on since purchasing The LAN Network back in 2011 was the cross section of “VIDEO GAMES” and “EDUCATION” – and the impact these have on kids and adults.