VAN BUREN, Ar. (KNWA) – A Van Buren student signed a letter of intent Friday to compete in a college sport. The athletic program he’s joining doesn’t require a ball or bat, just intense focus and skilled thumbs.
Jordan Deuley plays a game called Rocket League. It’s a mix between cars and soccer, and it’s extremely popular in the video game community. The Van Buren senior is such a talented player that he was offered a scholarship to play for Lyon College’s e-sports team.
“I’m mostly excited about how much potential it’s gonna bring to our school and just high school e-sports in general,” Deuley said.
E-sports combine the competitiveness of traditional sports with video games. They’ve increased in popularity in recent years, with some players earning millions in sponsorships.
Deuley’s family was hesitant to recognize the opportunities associated with gaming, but his parents began to see the potential for their son to advance.
“When he first started doing it, I thought it had to be some sort of gimmick,” said Jim Bettis, Deuley’s father. “It’s playing computer games.”
Austin Lonsert is Lyon’s e-sports coach. He said he’s going to help Deuley hone his skills.
“Everyone works just as hard [as traditional athletes],” Lonsert said. “They put in just as many hours. We do drills. We don’t just play the game every single day.”‘
Deuley is the first college gamer to come from Van Buren.
But don’t be surprised if he’s the first of many.
“There’s so much potential with it, and I feel like this is gonna shine a light on it,” Deuley said.