PHOENIX – Over the past five years, Brophy College Preparatory has not only been home to one of the best high school esports programs in the state but one of the best in the entire nation.
Entering the 2023-24 school year, the Broncos have a new program lead and a newly transformed Overwatch roster after six of eight players from last year graduated in the spring.
Brophy’s Overwatch Zephyr team opens the new season as the back-to-back national champions of the PlayVs Overwatch Cup, a nationwide tournament for high school programs across the country.
Brophy Prep seniors Rohan Godha and Justin Sesate are the lone returning players for the Overwatch squad. Godha enters his third year with the Broncos, while Sesate is entering his fourth, with Godha being the only current player to have been on both national championship rosters.
Both were involved in the program during last year’s championship run but now step into a new position of leading a less-experienced Brophy squad.
Godha and Sesate dismissed the idea of any sort of extra pressure from being the veterans on the team, instead reinforcing how excited they were to work with their new teammates and earn the chemistry back as a squad.
The situation is not completely foreign to them as they lost star players Jonathan Mena and Holden Huber the previous year through graduation. Mena and Huber have since continued playing in the collegiate Overwatch circuit for ASU’s main roster, finishing in the top 12 of the country in the 2023 Overwatch Collegiate Championship Series.
There’s also a new lead for the nation’s No. 2-ranked high school esports program in the country in USA Today’s rankings through PlayVs, with Chris Rapa stepping into the role starting this school year.
Rapa graduated from Brophy Prep in 2010 and returned to the school three years ago as a statistics teacher. Shortly after, he joined the esports program as an assistant moderator and was a coach for the program leading up to his promotion this school year.
The transition comes after former program lead Shawna Khan stepped away from the program over the summer, after founding and leading the esports teams since 2019. Khan is taking a break from the program to spend more time with her twin sons, who are freshmen in different high schools.
She admitted that it will be “totally odd” to not be involved with the program this year but has faith in Rapa to lead the teams in the right direction.
“They absolutely love him, so they are all in good hands,” Khan said.
Due to the pedigree of Brophy Prep esports in its short lifetime, Rapa admitted that taking the lead in the program has been difficult, but he’s hopeful about what the team can do in his first year in charge.
“I mean it’s a little overwhelming to take over one of the top programs in the nation, so that weighs on me,” Rapa said. “But it’s also exciting, because I know we have some really good talent here and I know we have a system in place that supports our esports students. I’m happy to be here and working with those students and I think we’ll do really well this season.”
Brophy began its season with a 2-0 record, defeating Katella High School and TUHS in its first two matches.
Rapa has already realized the expectations that come with leading a program to the pedigree of Brophy with the Broncos’ season just getting started.
“There’s just high expectations that maybe I put on myself, and it’s just a nature of coming into the program,” Rapa said.
For Godha and Sesate, their goals have not shifted, with a third consecutive PlayVs national championship in their sights.
“You have to aim high, we’re aiming for a national championship again,” Godha said.