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It's a whole new game: Raiders' Garza breaks new ground with scholarship for esports at LVC

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 3/20/19

Mason Garza likes to remind his mom, Robyn, that he used to get yelled at for playing video games.

Especially since the Middletown Area High School senior just received a $2,500 annual …

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It's a whole new game: Raiders' Garza breaks new ground with scholarship for esports at LVC

Posted

Mason Garza likes to remind his mom, Robyn, that he used to get yelled at for playing video games.

Especially since the Middletown Area High School senior just received a $2,500 annual scholarship to play on Lebanon Valley College’s esports team.

Esports is competitive video gaming, and Lebanon Valley College had the first varsity esports team in the state, according to the LVC website. On March 14, LVC presented Garza with his team jersey during a ceremony at Middletown Area High School.

“I think what makes esports fun is mainly the competitive aspect,” Garza said. “When you’re playing with your friends or family and you’re just having a fun time, it’s fun but eventually you get bored because there’s a ceiling of what you can do. But with competition, there’s [an] incentive to work toward.” 

So what exactly does it mean to be on an esports team?

Twice a week for about two hours, Garza and his teammates will practice and play games, critique what they do and participate in a biyearly tournament.

According to Garza, if they do well enough in the tournament, they could earn additional scholarship money and travel across the country.

Garza has been playing video games since he was 9. His first game was “Call of Duty,” which he would play with his dad.

“Which is not recommended for 9-year-olds,” he added.

Playing the game with his dad and his friends, Garza became really good, scoring within the top 100 in the world, he said.

Garza was already planning on attending LVC to study analytical finance. He could work in the stock market or in corporate finance for large companies on Wall Street.

He said he liked LVC’s campus, and that it has small class sizes and a high job-placement rate for graduates.

According to its website, LVC launched the first varsity esports team in the state in spring 2018, and their athletes compete in games such as “Overwatch,” “League of Legends,” “Smash,” “CS:GO,” “Smite,” “Hearthstone,” “Call of Duty,” “Paladins” and “Rocket League,” which is Garza’s game.

Garza described “Rocket League” as “rocket-powered car soccer.”

Garza, who played on the Blue Raiders boys soccer team, has been playing the game for about three-and-a-half years.

“At first it was hard to get used to, but then it started to get fun as I got better. I really had fun playing it because you never know what’s going to happen in a particular game,” he said.

While Garza hasn’t participated in a professional tournament, he has played in what is called a LAN, or local area network, tournament.

He earned second place in a Rocket League tournament.

He said he doesn’t play as much as he used to, but he still plays to stay on top of his skills.

Robyn said they are proud of Mason, especially because he inquired about the scholarship on his own.

“Right away he had to remind us that we yelled at him for playing video games,” she said.

Robyn knew that he wanted to go to LVC, and he was excited when he heard about their esports team.

“That was kind of a bonus,” she said.