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Bob Jones Esports claims fifth State Championship, Vannoy earns scholarship

MADISON – Esports members from Bob Jones High School showed undeniable dominance with their fifth consecutive state title in “Rocket League” competition at Alabama Esports State Championships.

Along with that achievement, standout team member Joshua Vannoy won an SEC scholarship.

Team members Max Dunkerly, Mateo Santiago, Luke Scherer, Jarrett Stephens and Joshua Vannoy competed at Magic City ePlex in Birmingham on April 29. Aubree White serves as Head Esports Coach and teaches English 9/Reading Lab at Bob Jones.

In another individual accomplishment, Jabari Salaam succeeded in his second consecutive state championship in “Madden.” Salaam stands as the only competitor to win two state titles. He won 2-0 in a ‘best of 3’ series.

In Birmingham, Bob Jones ousted Athens High School with a 4-0 routing in a ‘best of 7’ series. Since the first season in spring 2019, Bob Jones Esports has claimed a total of seven State Championships.

“Players competed on PC through Epic Games’ popular title ‘Rocket League,’ a vehicular soccer video game. This tournament was similar to state championships in the past; however, our opponent was new — Athens High School,” White said.

AHSAA manages all Esports leagues. PlayVS organizes the play.

In other accolades, Joshua Vannoy has signed a national letter of intent for Esports at the University of Mississippi. “Five consecutive State Championships are pretty impressive for sure. Joshua is the only one that played in all five wins,” his mother Lisa Vannoy said. “I guess he is pretty good at it.”

“Joshua’s team really ‘clicked’ well and had great communication through the season. Joshua has told me that it isn’t about how many goals your make but how well you team works together to make those goals,” Lisa said.

In fall 2021, Lisa started researching colleges and collegiate Esports. “I was impressed with the amount of colleges out West that have state-of-the-art facilities for Esports. I found very little in the South that actually had a facility and tryouts. Most seemed to be clubs and no real scholarships,” Lisa said.

By chance, Lisa emailed the Esports coach at Ole Miss. She submitted Joshua’s Discord, Twitter and Twitch accounts to determine the university’s interest. “Only one trip to Oxford, Miss. and Joshua knew that was where he wanted to go and play College Rocket League,” Lisa said. Ole Miss has an Esports Venue, thanks to a generous donor.

Lisa and husband Larry Vannoy know Ole Miss well. “Our oldest daughter Jessica is an Ole Miss grad. We got quite familiar with the campus in fell in love with it,” Lisa said. “We gladly supported Joshua’s decision to attend Ole Miss. Ole Miss wanted him from the beginning. A tryout wasn’t necessary.”

Lisa describes Esports as “a team sport. They have to work together. I believe Esports has helped him develop communication and leader skills, being the senior member of the team. He has also developed strategizing, critical thinking and multitasking,” she said.

“Joshua is an SSL (Super Sonic legend). He’s known in the surrounding area in the gaming world for his passion, skill and risk taking while playing the game,” Lisa said.

“Esports has grown and is continuing to grow across the world,” White said. In high schools, Esports is popular because students “are finding this outlet and latching on to it as they build relationships and community in this field. Additionally, colleges and careers are establishing heavy interest and are now offering scholarships.”

This fall, PlayVS will add “NBA 2K.”

For more information, email awhite@madisoncity.k12.al.us, Twitter @bjhs_esports or Instagram @bjhsesports.

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