Super Coach Aubree White Overcomes Stigmas to Win Multiple Esports Championships
Coach White encourages other women to get involved in esports to eliminate stereotypes.
Esports coach Aubree White led the Bob Jones High School Rocket League team to a victory at the 2019, 2020, and 2021 PlayVS Alabama state championships. In 2021, the teacher-turned-esports coach also clinched a win for the state’s first Madden title.
Despite these accomplishments, White’s expertise is still questioned in relation to her gender. When people hear she is an esports coach, she is often grilled by skeptics, something her male counterparts don’t experience as often. Sometimes these doubts will even come from students.
To that, Aubree just rolls her eyes and laughs it off (as she leads her team to another victory). She will often respond to students: “Hey, I’ll be happy to answer the question. But I do want you to take a second and ask yourself if you would ask a male gamer, player, or coach this question.”
In response, students immediately realize they have the wrong mindset and the conversation turns to gaming instead.
“I feel like being open and approachable helps to navigate those difficult situations,” White said.
While White has made a positive impact on the students in her own program, she has called on more women to get involved in the esports industry to create a more diverse and welcoming space.
“More women can get involved with esports by simply playing! Lots of women already have picked up gaming without focusing on the stigma of video games ‘being for boys.’ If more girls were open about actively seeking this as a sport, hobby, career, then more women would see that representation and pick it up for themselves,” White said.
The League of Legends and Rocket League coach added that women should seek out esports opportunities in college, which can lead to academic successes and new career paths. More women in leadership positions would lessen the stigma around gender, she said.
From Casual Gamer to Esports Champion
White said that gaming has always been a big part of her life. As a kid, she watched her older brother play Super Mario and Donkey Kong. From there, she begged her parents for her own PC to play Reader Rabbit, working her way up to The Return of the King on PlayStation 2 and then Halo on the Xbox.
“As soon as I saw that gaming could be an actual team experience that students at a high school could be a part of, I jumped on it and ran with it, and I won’t be slowing down any time soon!” White exclaimed.
When White became a high school esports coach, she realized she was involved in something special. She soon recognized that a lot of the students in the esports program were the types that were often gaming alone at home and hadn’t found an outlet at school. The esports program had given them a space to “feel seen and liked for who they are,” creating meaningful friendships and having pride in their ability to represent their school.
Recalled White: “When we were out at dinner one of those first times, I just looked around and saw nothing but smiles and laughs — pure joy. No one was left out. Everyone was having a great time. This is special because that is what being on a team should look like.”
The positivity and passion created in the esports program quickly spread outside of practice. The school and the community started having more conversations about the importance of esports as the interest in the program increased. Even students not involved in the program will ask how their season is going.
Those competitive moments are priceless for White and the students. The team always talks about the trip to their first-ever state championship and how competing (and winning) made them feel.
“Our state championship for Fall 2019 was incredible,” White said. “The venue was awesome. But the players truly felt like their competition was being taken seriously when PlayVS sent professional photographers and videographers to capture moments during their experience. The professional streams were also handled and presented in a great way. The players participated in legit interviews post-game, which gave them another opportunity to showcase their game knowledge and skill beyond playing the games. PlayVS really stepped up and made that experience what it needed to be.”
While winning is always an incredible experience, the real experience was the journey. From being dismissed for being a woman to leading her teams to win back-to-back championships, White is proof of the power of an inclusive esports community, shaping her students’ perspectives of women in gaming for the better. More and more women are joining her all over the country as esports continues to expand in high schools throughout the United States.
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert, high-level gamer to get involved and make an impact!