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Rigby Trojans esports sees national success

RIGBY, Idaho (KIFI) - Rigby High School has put together one of Idaho’s best esports programs in just two years of existence.

Four Trojans were offered the University of Idaho’s first-ever esports scholarships Wednesday. Rigby’s team practices against both U of I and the College of Eastern Idaho - often winning. And on Thursday, the team learned it was selected to represent Idaho in a national Rocket League tournament.

“I’m trying not to live vicariously through them,” admitted Rigby esports director Hayden Romney. “But I totally am.”

“Their successes are my successes,” he continued, “and to see these kids be successful, it’s like watching your own kids be successful.”

“If you asked me two years ago, even, I would’ve said, ‘Nah, no way,’” said Brody Christensen, the team’s Rocket League captain. “There’s no way I’m gonna get signed to a college for this.’ But now here I am.”

Christensen competes in four different games for Rigby, a rarity amongst the typical hyper-specialization of esports athletes, and serves as the Rocket League team’s player/coach. He is one of four seniors signed by the Idaho Vandals.

“I wish I could take any credit for it, but really, those kids are amazing,” Romney said. “And they’re so much fun to be around.”

Rigby’s program has grown leaps and bounds. It doubled its membership following its first year, now fielding 80 competitors.

“I met so many new people,” said junior Chris Black, who is the team’s Super Smash Bros. captain. “All the seniors that have graduated, I didn’t know them before this, and now they’re some of my best friends.”

“Everyone’s gotten closer together as we’ve played more with each other,” Christensen said. “We just became really good friends overall, on top of teammates.”

“We took five teams to state this year,” Romney said. “And there are five games that we compete in, and we were able to take five teams, which was, I believe, the most in the state.”

Rigby’s Rocket League team has captured back-to-back state titles, staying undefeated since the program’s founding. Its Super Smash Bros. team has also won a title, and its Overwatch team finished in the top five this year.

“The state actually designated me as the national MVP for Rocket League this year,” said Christensen, “which I think is pretty sweet.”

“I walked into a couple of amazing esports athletes,” Romney said. “I can’t take credit. I didn’t coach them to be that great, let’s be honest.”

Local News 8 asked Romney what he thinks his players would say about him.

“I would hope they’d say I’m supportive,” he answered. “And they’d probably say I’m terrible at Smash Bros.”

“Mr. Romney is the man!” Black boasted. "I love Mr. Romney as a teacher and as a person.”

Romney’s passion for supporting his team also flows through his wallet. He’s paid for much of the team’s equipment out of his own pocket.

“Most of the computers in this room were funded by Romney himself,” Christensen asserted.

“I’ll find things that are on sale and we’ll get the parts,” Romney added. “So they’re kind of mismatched. But as long as they’re functional and they’ll play. The kids come with me and we learn how to put all the different parts together.”

Romney also purchased five of the team’s six Nintendo Switch consoles, which are required to play Super Smash Bros. The sixth was provided by a grant.

“Even in my personal life, he’s been there for me if I’ve ever needed anything,” Christensen said.

“He’s helped us become the best versions of ourselves,” Black added.

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Sam Gelfand


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