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University of Akron unveils E-Sports program

AKRON, Ohio - Friday was opening day at The University of Akron for the university's much anticipated new E-Sports program.

Akron became the first public school in Ohio to offer E-Sports boasting more space dedicated to the competition than any other university in the world.

E-sports gives students the opportunity to compete against teams from other universities on a varsity level.

But, with 93 computers at three different locations on campus, Akron is also allowing some 300 students to play and compete on the recreational, club and varsity levels .

Varsity teams will compete in a new arena on the first floor of InfoCision Stadium.

A new E-Sports cafe in the student union will be open to club-level players.

Those competing on the varsity level are eligible for scholarships.

Among the varsity players is Josh Lukachinski, a fourth year pharmacy student.

"Last spring I was literally just playing and my friend messaged me like hey Akron's having a E-Sports team you should try out. So I was like 'whatever.' I signed up for it and we had tryouts and I ended up making the team," said Lukachinski.

Also competing as a varsity player is Will Weiser of North Royalton, a freshman majoring in financial management who said he started playing video games when he was 13.

Weiser said his plan was to initially go to a community college first then transfer to Akron, but the lure of E-Sports changed his plans.

"When I found out I could get scholarship money to play video games it was a no brainer," said Weiser.

Some of the students on Akrons E-Sports teams are computer science majors who hope the experience will open doors for job opportunities.

"Yesterday I had an interview with Goodyear. They talked a lot about this during the interview so I think it helped," said Tim Inzitari.

Like other collegiate teams, the players have uniforms, coaches and sponsors. They scrimmage and they have scheduled practices.

Missy Gagliardi of Hermatige, Pennsylvania, whose son is on the team, says she worried, like many parents do, about the amount of time he spent playing video games.

"His grades were good so he probably played more than he should have, but here we are at Akron on scholarship," said Gagliardi.

Akron is one of fewer than ten universities in Ohio to have an E-Sports program. There are only about 50 E-Sports programs in the country.