MADISON – Four senior boys at Bob Jones High School were all smiles, understandably, when they received their long-awaited championship rings on Sept. 27 for E-Sports state competition with Alabama High School Athletic Association or AHSAA.
The Bob Jones Fusion team had been waiting for their rings since their championship win against Austin High School of Decatur in fall 2020.
Fusion team members are Jordan Hazuga, Mateo Santiago, Cooper Skelley and Joshua Vannoy.
Their handsome gold jewelry resembles a ‘fusion’ of a college class ring and Super Bowl ring. The ring’s face has a field of shiny stones with the number “1” at the center. One side has the person’s last name, outline of the State of Alabama with “1” at the center and “2021.” The other side states “ESPORT” and “BJHS,” along with the game’s tools (keyboard, controllers and headset).
“Players competed on PC through Epic Games’ popular title ‘Rocket League.’ The Bob Jones Fusion team practiced and competed weekly, continuously building their team chemistry and skills, which led to their victory,” Coach Aubree White said. White teaches freshman English and reading lab.
White felt ecstatic when AHSSA approved E-Sports as a varsity sport for high schools. “E-Sports is an avenue that could reach so many students and help them find their place and their people for their high school experience,” White said. “It also opens up pathways for college and careers as many STEM degrees or careers look for students who showcase the skills that these E-Sports players possess.”
As a coach, “I am just incredibly proud of these players . . . especially during a season where things were so unknown at school,” White said. “As we returned from the COVID shutdown, these guys persevered to create that sense of normalcy in their E-Sports routine again.”
“The work they put in and the commitment they showed to improving and staying on top makes me extremely thankful for this program and the opportunities it opens up for our students,” White said.
By participating in E-Sports, a student builds skills in critical thinking, strategy, communication, teamwork and hand-eye coordination, White said.
“I would like to give a huge shoutout and thank you to Posh Mommy and Baby Too! for their donation to help us purchase the state rings. Larry and Lisa Vannoy have been incredibly helpful and supportive throughout many seasons now,” White said. “I would also like to thank Greg Machen for his awesome work on helping us complete our team photo for the fall 2020 season in a safe way. He did a great job at putting those together.”