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John O’Neil NOVA Student and Esports Coach Speaks on National Championship-Winning Team

John O’Neil NOVA Student and Esports Coach Speaks on National Championship-Winning Team

John O’Neil, one of NOVA's lead co-coaches for Esports has long known of NOVA as it has been a family tradition to come to the College. O’Neil leads a highly competitive team as the NOVA Esports team has won seven of the ten national championships where they have competed. 

Recently, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin congratulated NOVA Esports on winning the Rocket League and Valorant National Junior College Athletic Association Championship. "This distinguished achievement demonstrates the dedication and commitment to excellence of the Esports team, coaches, the Athletic Department and President Kress," Youngkin said.

"NOVA Student-Athletes work tirelessly to continue to achieve success. We are so very proud we can offer our Student-Athletes a memory of a lifetime (and something stellar they can put on their resume!). They deserve a great deal of respect, admiration, and recognition," said CJ Jackson, director of recreation and wellness at NOVA. "The recognition from the Governor of Virginia is an excellent way to provide them with proof of just how significant their accomplishments are."

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:
I first started going to NOVA because I gave myself two choices out of high school - either joining military or continuing in school.  I tried the military, and it didn’t work out.  

I came to NOVA in 2018, and then left to try to pursue the military. Then I returned to NOVA in 2019. I was wayward at first, and now I really appreciate the resources here, and I found my home in Esports. I met all my current friends in Esports. I like participating in student life and really recommend other students participate in student life. 

On the NOVA Esports team, I was a player and then I transitioned into a coaching role. I played Overwatch when I was on the team, and as a program co-head of the Esports team, I currently coach Valorant, Rocket League and Fortnite. Our former director left, and I am currently filling their shoes. I was happy to take charge for benefit of the team. The NOVA Esports team has won a total of seven national championships out of ten national appearances.  

I think the biggest thing is to encourage people to check out what we do as an Esports team. We do community work, too, and we run tournaments, which are always exciting. We plan to have watch parties for those to win prizes. 

What brought you to NOVA?
My two brothers went to NOVA, and so did my mother. NOVA was just always in the family. 

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA; i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.

Every student I’ve coached has helped me in some way as I’ve helped them. Jordan my co-coach is amazing, we have been able to run things together. 

What are you studying or plan to study at NOVA?

I am studying information systems technology. When I first started at NOVA, I was doing graphic design. I then took a couple of IT classes at Annandale and really liked my professor, Ryan Ammons, who said I had the talent for IT. 

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?

I deal with a lot of new incoming students when they try out. I think a lot of people, when they come here, know what to do to be successful. However, starting at NOVA is also a time to find out what you want to do. I would tell every student to get involved. I would say, the more you go to a club event, a job fair, an esports event–every one of those things is a good experience. I would say for everyone to get active and do things 

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?

I am already where I want to be. Right now, I am working with youth esports leagues around the Northern Virginia area. I want to continue my path in the world of Esports and have the skills in the information technology field as a backup.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.