‘Madden 20 Challenge’ takes Hash family to San Francisco

‘Madden 20 Challenge’ takes Hash family to San Francisco
Gary Lewis Hash of Fairlawn, shown here with wife Meghan and their children, Gary III and Farrar, was ranked 8th in a recent Xbox competition and was invited to compete in the Madden 20 Challenge held in San Francisco from January 29 through February 1, 2020. The competition was hosted by Electronic Arts (EA Sports). Hash landed an interview with ESPN through competing in the Madden Challenge.  (EA Sports photo)

Who knew that men from antiquity like King Henry IV and Sherlock Holmes would endorse computer games such as Xbox and PlayStation? But both used the phrase “the game is afoot” when referring to their life strategy beginning to play out; and their need to follow it through.

You might say that Gary Lewis Hash of Fairlawn has joined these great men in pursuit of his “the game is afoot strategy.”  Hash, who was ranked 8th in an Xbox competition, was invited to compete in the Madden 20 Challenge held in San Francisco from January 29 through February 1, 2020.  The competition was hosted by Electronic Arts (EA Sports).

“I was excited to represent our community and compete in this event.  The support from my family and friends in southwest Virginia was beyond amazing and inspiring,” remarked Hash.  Residents of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany and the UK were competing in the tournament. Most, as Hash pointed out, were much younger than himself.

Because of this competition in California, Hash says he has already made $5,000.  “They paid for my hotel at a beautiful resort – in a $700 per night suite – my plane ticket and meals.  Plus, I got to bring my family with me.”  Potential winnings for the competition were up to $35,000 at the event.

Hash, who says he would like to have a platform to reach out to people and help them, landed an interview with ESPN through competing in the Madden Challenge.  The interview will air on ESPN2 at noon on Sunday, February 9th.

Hash says his best game is football which requires good hand-eye coordination.  As a youngster, he started playing on his Nintendo against older relatives, but consistently got beaten.

“I was determined to improve my skills.  It created a drive in me.  I realized that to be top at anything, you can’t take shortcuts. Just because you don’t win, don’t quit. You grow and learn even if you lose.  Defeat is not a step back if you grow.”

Hash, whose parents are Colette and Pastor Gary Hash of Jubilee Christian Center in Fairlawn, maintains a fulltime staff position at the church managing the office.  He and his wife, Meghan, have overseen the Youth Ministry for eight years.  Hash will complete his master’s degree in Theology this spring through theUniversity of Christian Ministry and Leadership. Jubilee Christian Center maintains a campus at their church.

“I wasn’t going to enter the competition because some of these take too much time; but I had a free weekend and decided to give it a shot.  I competed against some high-ranked players.  When I won, my points and ranking went up.  I went from 330 to the top 40 in one weekend and was beating some of the best players.  After that, I played only 30 minutes a day and ended up in the final 16,” he said.

Hash believes he can use the gaming platform to reach out to people and help them, since the potential is always there to get sponsors.

“I want to do everything I can for Pulaski County.  My first community priority is Pulaski County and what we are doing here through Jubilee Christian Center.”

Among the church ministries is a new one for young men ages five to eighteen, called “Our Young King Breakfast.”  Church leaders will prepare breakfast for them and discuss essentials they need to become good men; such as how to properly greet someone (shake hands, enter into conversation, listen); good manners; how to do routine maintenance on a car (check water, oil, tire pressure), the importance of establishing good habits at an early age, etc.

Although Hash did not make it to the top tier in the tournament, he finished only 14-points below the runner-up for the entire tournament.  In his final game which would have advanced him to the Wild Card round, he broke a 70-yard touchdown which would have won him the game; but received a penalty on the play with one second left to play.

“Here I am with a chance to compete for the grand prize of $35,000 and got a holding penalty and lost by one second.  I was playing against three of the Top Ten overall players in all the other major tournaments in the world,” Hash lamented.  Adding, “You’re always a champion in your own house.  When you step outside of your house, you find out how great you are…or aren’t.”

But Hash says competing was an amazing experience!

“The cool thing is that we were interviewed throughout the tournament by ESPN and my family got a personal tour of the EA (Electronic Arts) broadcast center.  EA Sports, who ran the tournament, were tremendous hosts.”

Because of this tournament, Hash has been invited to participate in another exclusive tournament with 32 people competing for a weekly $1,000 prize.  “The best part of this competition is that I don’t have to leave the house…I can compete from home.”

Hash says he realized the importance of this home-based competition during the final day of the Madden tournament.

“We were in the hotel lobby.  My kids were running around, and I could surely hear them laughing and having fun. My wife backed me up and fully supported me and helped me to reach new levels. It was then I realized the balance and right perspective with family and being a husband.”

By DANIELLE REID, The Patriot