New Hampshire

Esports Scholarships Offered by NH School

Video gaming has become a billion-dollar business, and now, kids can earn scholarships to play in college.

Southern New Hampshire University is the first school in the Granite State, and only the third in New England, to launch an esports program that will compete against schools across the country.

Twenty gaming scholarships will be up for grabs in 2019.

"I think it's amazing," said SNHU Senior Sultan Ahkter.

He and his buddy, John Stillman, have been gaming since they were kids.

They'll graduate before the $3,000 scholarships are available, but they'll be part of the SNHU esports team launching this fall.

"People are now recognizing, it's a real thing, it's a sport, it's not just kids having fun," Stillman said.

Coach Tim Fowler says leading an esports team is the same as coaching any other sport.

"We go over game tape every practice," Fowler said. "We will watch a match and say, 'What did we do well, what did we do poorly, what do we need to focus on.'"

And as one of his athletes, there’s a lot to learn.

"It never stops because they keep adding and changing the game and so you have to adapt, adapt and win," Stillman said.

For some of us, the screen looks like a mess of colors, and the lingo is a foreign language.

But to these guys, each and every click is strategic.

"He's staying far enough away not to get hit," Stillman explained as he watched Ahkter play.

Both players hope to someday find a career in the billion-dollar gaming industry.

"When you put so much time and effort into something, it should be rewarded," Ahkter said.

They say being a part of New Hampshire's only collegiate esports team could help turn their childhood dreams into reality.

"It's incredibly rewarding because I know how passionate they are," Fowler said.

The college is also opening dedicated gaming housing on campus in the fall. The third floor of Hampton residence hall has two student lounges fully equipped with monitors where kids can plug in their gaming consoles and play.

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