Aiden Hamilton, an Elkhorn Area High School senior, recently signed a scholarship to play esports for Northwood University. He is the first student in Wisconsin to earn a majority scholarship for esports. Joining him at the signing are his parents, Noelle and Jason Hamilton. (Dave Dresdow photo)

Elkhorn’s Aidan Hamilton will attend Northwood University

Elkhorn Area High School senior Aidan Hamilton recently signed the first majority esports scholarship in Wisconsin. Esports are a form of competition using video games.

Hamilton is a top high school Rocket League player, according to the Wisconsin High School Esports Association. He signed a 60% scholarship to attend Northwood University, which is the home of the National Collegiate Rocket League Champions.

Hamilton has led his team to back-to-back-to-back state championship matches and by committing to play Northwood, will see if he can help the university win another National Championship, a press release states.

His goal is to help “add the next level championship to my trophy case and to hopefully get noticed by pro organizations,” he said.

Hamilton was asked what esports has meant to him.

“Over the years, it’s helped me grow friendships, leadership skills, communication skills and moved me out of my comfort zone. It’s helped my confidence grow exponentially,” Hamilton said.

He said after signing his letter of intent, describing what he was feeling was “hard to put this into words. I’m excited, but my form of excitement is ‘feels good’. I’m a unique specimen,” he joked.

Jerry Iserloth, the esports coach at Elkhorn, said he has been able to watch Aidan grown and develop in the classroom and gaming.

“When I met Aidan as a sophomore he was a student of the game (Rocket League) and over the past three years I’ve seen him grow from that player to a leader of the game,” Iserloth said.

“His presence on the digital field has always been one of respect but now when watching him, he not only plays by example, but leads as well. He directs his team to where he needs them to be and because of that, he’s become so much more than just that player, he’s become a leader,” he added.

As is often the case, according to the WIHSEA, the hardest people to get approval from with esports are parents, but Hamilton’s parents have grown into video game supporters because of his experience.

“I used to think they were a waste of time,” Noelle Hamilton said about watching her son grow and develop through video games.

“For Aidan, those time-wasting games have been a huge blessing. They have opened so many doors for him… to be a leader, the captain of a team, for him to go to state, win state and be the All-State MVP,” she said. “Video games have opened the door for him to showcase his talent and showcase his character.”

Mike Dahle, a business education teacher at EAHS and president of the WIHSEA, said he hopes the scholarship awarded to Hamilton shows that esports has a lot to offer students.

“I’m really happy to see that our students are being recognized for their talent in their craft. We’ve had dozens of students receiving scholarships to play at the next level, but this is the first that received a 50%-plus scholarship, so hopefully this helps open more eyes around the state that these are legit opportunities for their students,” Dahle said.

The Wisconsin High School Esports Association governs, supports and promotes the growth of high school esports through community development, advocacy, equitable participation, and interscholastic competition to enrich the educational experience.

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