Lakeview grad earns college eSports scholarship - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Lakeview grad earns college eSports scholarship

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CORTLAND, Ohio -

When you think of a college scholarship, typically your mind goes to good grades or good athletes. 

One Lakeview grad is exploring a new option, going to Ashland University this fall on an eSports scholarship.

Like most parents, Johnna Shrum didn't really have the term "eSports" on her radar.

"Hunter had mentioned it a few years ago, but I just was kind of, 'Oh ok,' didn't know really what it was,'" said Johnna Shrum.

When her son Hunter started talking about playing in college, Johnna and her husband had to learn on the fly. 

Hunter Shrum just graduated from Lakeview High School and plays Counter Strike, a first-person shooter video game.

"I've been playing competitive Counter Strike maybe three years so far. I started in open and worked my way up. I'm now playing in advanced league, which is the third highest league pretty much," said Hunter Shrum.

This fall he'll go to Ashland University on a $4,000 scholarship to play the game. It's part of the school's new eSports team, one of 87 varsity programs in the country. 

The program is laid out just like track-and-field if you want a sports comparison; each player has his or her own specialty. In all, this year's roster will include about 35 players recruited to play one of six games, including Counter Strike.

"It feels really good to finally get noticed by the public scene pretty much, more than just being seen as playing video games, wasting your time. More people are starting to recognize it as more of a sport," said Hunter Shrum.

Which, Ashland head coach Josh Buchanan admits has been a challenge, especially for the parents of potential recruits.

"At first the parents are almost always pretty skeptical. And then when they kind of hear that 'whoa', the scholarship is legitimate, they're going to be competing in a facility, they're going to have coaches looking out for their well-being and making sure that they're not just playing games all day and that they're actually going to class. It totally changes their perspectives," said Buchanan.

"We're a typical parent where we're like 'Too much gaming, time to get off,' but now we're like really happy because it's paid off," said Johnna Shrum.

So while he is technically playing a video game in his room, he's also training. That's one of the big differences with eSports, whether you're doing it professionally or at the collegiate level.

"Just like any sport, we all practice with a team. My team specifically, we practice roughly 2-4 hours a night," said Hunter Shrum.

 A commitment that sounds very similar to your more traditional sports. Just like a lot of those, there's the opportunity to turn pro at some point.

"Some of the pro players, they make more than I would make after I graduated a college and landed a job, some of them make the same amount and some of them make millions," said Hunter Shrum.

Even if Hunter never reaches that level, he'll still be getting an education this fall; an education video games helped provide.

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