Putnam Science Academy’s Esports team continues to hum along like a well-oiled machine. Now in its third year, the program quietly qualified in December for its second straight trip to Nationals in the High School Esports League when its Rocket League team won HSEL’s highest division of play, the Premier League. 

“Coming off a second place finish at Nationals last year, we wanted to be sure we had a really strong team again,” Coach Aaron Jones said. “These guys have proven to be exactly that and more. We got really lucky in recruiting, especially for Rocket League.”

The team of Gavin Lo Vasco, Carson Sward, Jonathan Galdamez, and Kohen Yates dominated play in the fall season on its way to qualifying, actually winning all five leagues they were in. So the group decided not to compete in the HSEL during the spring season and is instead currently participating in the ECS (Evolution Championship Series), where they are honing their skills against teams and players from a field that is not restricted to just high school players and is more more competitive for them. 

Lo Vasco and Galdamez were on the team last year and are looking forward to a return trip to Kansas City where Nationals are being held, though you might not know it from talking to or looking at either of them. 

“It’s really hard to get these kids excited about things,” Jones said with a laugh. “It’s crazy, like how can you not be excited to be one of the top teams. They’re just a different breed. Even when they came in second last year, (former coach Ibo Rivera) and I were so bothered by it the entire time, but 10 minutes later the guys were laughing and having a great time. They don’t get emotional about it one way or the other, they’re pretty even keeled through it all. But I can tell you that they definitely love Nationals. The love it.”

The team and Jones feel good about their chances to win to the whole thing this year, based on how far above the field they were in the fall. Four teams qualified then, and four more will come out of the spring season that ends in April. “Things may have changed, and things may change,” Jones said, “but I’m really confident in these guys. They’re great kids and they’re really talented players.”

Teams can win scholarship money depending on where they finish at Nationals. Jones said the number could be around $15,000 for the winning team to split. 


Steve Nalbandian – Sports Information Director

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