When you hear someone received a sports scholarship to play at a certain college, you think football, basketball, softball, soccer, but what about video games?
Brandon Cochran is a senior at Ripley High School and he recently signed a contract to West Virginia Wesleyan College to participate in their eSports program.
eSports is a form of sports where the primary aspects occur digitally, through video games and the devices that enable the interactions to play them. Just as in traditional sports, eSports competitions focus heavy emphasis on hand-eye coordination, fine-tuned muscle control and form, and physiological responses.
Cochran has been playing video games since he was little. He admits it was something both he and his brother could do together that they both enjoyed.
WVWC’s eSports program is a new program that was introduced in the fall of 2018. Wesleyan is the first school in the state of WV to offer eSports at a varsity level and provide athletic scholarships for prospective recruits. It is only the second school nationally to outline scholarships for the battle royal title Fortnite.
Cochran is considered a student athlete and will be treated similar to those in the traditional athletics programs at Wesleyan.
The school will join in collegiate competition as a member of NACE (National Association of Collegiate eSports), AVGL (American Video Game League), and CSL (Collegiate Starleague).
Cochran will play Fortnite while working toward getting a masters in business through WVWC.
“I was considering going to Fairmont or WVWC,” Cochran said. “Seeing that Wesleyan offered this type of scholarship sealed the deal.”
The first varsity eSports team was formed in 2014 at a collegiate institution and the growth has been exponential, with an estimated 60 institutions having offered scholarships in eSports in the fall of 2017.
According to wvwc.edu, NACE, the governing body of eSports at the varsity level, has 73 member institutions which Wesleyan will join as part of competition in the 2019-2020 year.
“We are excited for him,” Cochran’s mother Crystal Cochran said. “I guess video games can help pay for college!”