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Victorious for the second consecutive year, Rocket League at Bob Jones High School won the State Championship for Class 1A-7A in Alabama High School Athletic Association or AHSAA. Bob Jones Principal Sylvia Lambert (from left) congratulates team members Cooper Skelley, Mateo Santiago and Joshua Vannoy. Not pictured are players Jordan Hazuga and Esports Coach Aubree White. CONTRIBUTED

Bob Jones Rocket League again claims state title

MADISON – After her team won the 2020 state championship, coach Aubree White with the Rocket League at Bob Jones High School found it “tempting to feel like we were fine, and we could keep doing what we did.”

“These guys, however, pushed even further this season to continue to improve and grow,” White said. Bob Jones Rocket League claimed the Alabama High School Athletic Association or AHSAA, Class 1A-7A State Championship by defeating Homewood High School.

Lots of thoughts ran through White’s mind when the Madison team took first place. “I would start with how proud I was of these guys. I think they were extremely proud of themselves as well,” White said. “Their heart in the game is admirable, and I know that it will take them farther than high school eSports.”

Team members, all juniors, are Joshua Vannoy, Jordan Hazuga, Mateo Santiago and Cooper Skelley.

In 2020, teams competed in Birmingham at Magic City ePlex, but COVID-19 forced teams to play at home in nationwide steaming on PlayVS’s Twitch.tv. “Unlike most sports, our playoffs run with all classifications. We compete against all schools from 1A to 7A,” White said.

“Rocket League is a fantastical sport-based video game, developed by Psyonix (it’s ‘soccer with cars’),” White said. “It features a competitive game mode, based on teamwork and outmaneuvering opponents. Players work with their team to advance the ball down the field and score goals in their opponents’ net.”

Spectators are in-game to determine any technical ‘fouls.’ Goals determine the scores.

In a normal season, the team has one official practice at school, and students play together online at home. The virus outbreak eliminated many of their normal activities and field trips.

Because of COVID-19, all practices were held at home. “We still kept one official practice to discuss specific things to work on — communication, rotation, mechanics. The players typically play together outside official practices throughout the week,” White said.

This year, Rocket League was opened to eighth grade. Players on the roster now can be in grades 8-12. “We are allowed to run one team in the state league, but I can have as many teams as we want in the regional league,” White said.

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