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Colorado teen is now a three-time regional esports champion

Aurora teen now 3-time regional esports champion
Aurora teen now 3-time regional esports champion 02:38

Ethan Hay has been playing video games since he was in elementary school.

"Since I was maybe 8 years old, I want to say. First, it was the XBOX 360… then I moved over to a couple of Wii games," Hay said.

Now, as a 17-year-old junior at Vista PEAK Preparatory School in Aurora, his hobby has become serious competition.

"It was freshman year when I first started playing esports for the school," Hay told CBS Colorado's Kelly Werthmann.

In 2022, esports were sanctioned by the Colorado High School Sports Association and competitive multiplayer video gaming rapidly grew in popularity. As of this year, more than 60 schools have at least one esports team.


In addition to the enjoyment he gets from games like Madden NFL, Hay simply crushes his opponents across Colorado and New Mexico.

"I won the Colorado state and then I won the mountain region state competition," he said.

Hay is now a three-time regional champion, earning some sweet trophies for his school. The goal now? A national esports title that could earn Hay thousands in college scholarships.

"I think I've gotten a couple college interests," he said. "It could really make a big difference."

More than a financial boost, playing esports gives Hay a surge of self-esteem.

"It gives me a sense of accomplishment," he says.

And he takes that confidence from the gaming gridiron to the actual turf.


"I started playing tackle football [for VPP] last year," Hay said.

While there are some obvious differences in how virtual and real-life football are played, both make Hay an athlete.

"I think there's a big stigma behind video games," he said, "that it makes people look at it as being a nerdy thing… but I don't think it is."

"Did you ever think you'd get to play video games at school, and for school?" Werthmann asked.

"Definitely not," Hay replied.

Neither did Hay's mom.

"I was very against video games at first," said Melissa Hay.

But, she said seeing her son's success -- and smile -- has changed her perspective.


"I am definitely proud of him and what he's become through esports," she said. "I think if we can bring esports to the forefront and show that it's not just sitting at home, being lazy and playing a game… this could be a career, it could be scholarships."

A scholarship Hay couldn't quite catch this time, but he's planning to score big as a senior.

"We had a national game [Tuesday], which I unfortunately lost," Hay said. "But it was pretty cool just to be there again."

"What's your game plan for next year?" Werthmann asked.

"Definitely to win," he replied.

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