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A sport with NFL-sized fan base has a new home at Illinois College

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The Computer Source store in Macomb is where recent high school graduates Zac Keithley and Jared Burns duel in a game of Smash Brothers.

For Jared, gaming started at the age of three when his dad bought a Nintendo Entertainment System.

"I just played one of the games,” Burns explained. “It was Super Mario Brothers and it just captivated me".

He's been hooked on gaming ever since, but to play in college has always been an idea.

"I've thought about it every once in a while,” Burns said. “I would definitely do it."
"If I can play my favorite games for a college or something, that would be phenomenal," Keithley mentioned.

That idea can now come to life at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Christian Matlock is the E-sports head coach.

"Our program specifically, we're looking to be competitive."

He was in the professional gaming world with the team known as Allegiance.

"I didn't play, I was in the management side," Matlock pointed out.

He explained the goal is to help people realize E-Sports is just like other sports.

"Really putting that on repetition and doing what needs to be done to be great," Matlock said.

He mentioned competitive gaming teaches students critical thinking, work ethic and teamwork.

A few areas that are crucial for life after college.

"There's a whole lot of career opportunities and this industry is getting just bigger and bigger," Matlock said.

The only requirement for E-sports is a love for gaming.

"If it's just more easy accessible to everybody that's just more people playing,” Keithley mentioned. “That's more people experiencing the same thing I have so I think that's awesome".

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