I was bullied growing up in the States as part of an immigrant family struggling to learn English. My mom says when she came in to wake me up to catch the school bus, she would find me already awake in a pool of tears because I was so scared of going to school. I sat alone during recess, ate by myself while enduring pinched noses and jeers at my home-made lunch, and worked on group assignments with the teacher. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2, a racing video game, was my escape. I remember coming home each day with a backpack full of helpless frustration and hopelessness of being me. It weighed me down heavily, until I hopped into my favorite Italian supercar and floored it 200mph down some exotic European coastline while getting chased by the cops for speeding. For a moment, I felt free; free to be me.
It was tragic then that I got in trouble with my parents later on for playing too many video games. They only allowed me 40 minutes a week, but I would always find a way to play when I wasn't supposed to. I couldn't help myself when it came to Red Alert: Command and Conquer, Planet Blupi, Super Mario World Advance 2, StarCraft: Broodwar, and eventually StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone.
After dropping out of 2 colleges and then working as a music teacher full-time, I found myself playing Hearthstone on a full Varsity Esports Scholarship studying Business Administration at Robert Morris University. I toured the world on weekends, played in international tournaments, and made a decent living playing video games.
BHOP Esports is what my life has led up to thus far. My passion for video games at a young age, my work with students in fine arts for the past 10 years, and my brief brush with the world of competitive esports have given me eyes for a store I wish had existed growing up. Nevertheless, I am lucky to have discovered the expressive art form that is video games. They were my sanctuary in times of loneliness, a catalyst for my imagination, and the inspiration to my curious approach in exploring the world. If I've learned anything from playing video games, it is that when you're meeting challenges, it means you're probably headed in the right direction.
BHOP Esports is most importantly a place where many now call home.