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eSports Students Game Way into College

eSports Club at Duncanville High School

S'Jamin Cotton (pictured, right) at Duncanville High School eSports Club Meeting



Put your phone down.


Stop scrolling Instagram.


Get off that video game.


Teenagers hear these admonishments all the time from their parents.


After school in a classroom at Duncanville High School, students are actually being encouraged to get online and game to increase their chances of going to college.


“Each night I get bombarded by recruiters,” said DHS Technology Education teacher Clifford Reed. “They’re asking about these kids.”


Mr. Reed recently volunteered to sponsor the high school’s new eSports club.


The idea for the club came from junior S’Jamin Cotton. The 16 year old has been offered a full scholarship by the University of Utah, for – you guessed it – playing video games.


“I was online playing League of Legends one night and I met this guy who goes to Texas A&M who told me he plays for their club,” S’Jamin said. “He told me that schools will pay for scholarships.”


S’Jamin took his new online friend at his word and applied for scholarships at several universities. Three of them, including Harvard, have offered him at least some money to attend their school and to play on their video game team.


For Mr. Reed, this idea of monetizing video game skill is relatively new. He confirms the interest from colleges is legitimate.


“When I’m on there I see about 40 recruiters per night,” Mr. Reed said. “I thought I played games when I was growing up, but this is a whole new level.”


The birth of Duncanville High School’s club comes at a time when companies are sponsoring professional teams of gamers. The companies offer contracts, housing and training facilities for the video game experts. Tournament purses, where gamers game and people pay to watch either live or online, can be worth millions of dollars.


No wonder, then, that the first meeting of Duncanville High School’s e-sports club drew a lot of interest.


“The response was out of control,” Mr. Reed said. “The first day, the room was full and students spilled out into the hallways.”


Several weeks later, Mr. Reed said he has about 160 students who plan to participate in the organized gaming.


At their after-school meetings, the e-sports club sponsor encourages his students to use their own names to create their accounts and to watch their language when playing online. To win a scholarship, not only do the students have to be good at their game, they also have to act professionally because the recruiters will be listening in.


S’Jamin Cotton is excited to see the eSports club taking shape. He wants fellow students to sign on so they can take advantage of the educational opportunities.


“It gives people who don’t have an athletic background another avenue to go to college on scholarship,” S’Jamin said.


Published 4/12/18