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Sports narratives echo inspiring motifs: underdogs mentored to tackle great matches, lessons learned through sacrifice for the team. Fans fill stadiums for many reasons—to witness the declarative “best” in a given field or to support a group or person with which they identify—but most importantly because sports deliver on the rarest of dreams– those realized and proven. 

Sports share stories of camaraderie, heroism, and community. They create that experience for everyone interested, anywhere in the big leagues or your backyard park—or, in the case of junior Josh Zimmerman, on Provo High School’s third floor, in the esports practice room.

Josh Zimmerman is not your typical sports hero– he didn’t start his journey as a Mario Kart esports player until a friend casually invited him to try out during a club week lunch this year. And entering the Mario Kart 8 esports world was a little formidable. Thinking back to his first visit to the esports room, he notes, “It was a little awkward at first. I only knew one person there. But I stuck with it.”

And stick with it, Josh did. The Mario Kart team rallied around the newcomer, teaching him the tricks of the trade: race lines and shortcuts for each track, optimized item and camera usage, and much more. And knowing these traits doesn’t guarantee you’ll place well– you need the razor-sharp skills to back it up. 

Josh, then, trained during and after practices. He often trained during the off-days between their practices, too. Josh didn’t own a Nintendo Switch, the console used to play Mario Kart 8, so he spent hours hanging around the practice room to hone his skills. 

His fellow teammates watched his growth, noting his work ethic. To better support Josh, they hatched a plan: save the cash to purchase Josh his own Nintendo Switch. 

“My friends went out and worked, and saved up for weeks to buy me the Switch. It was super cool. It means a lot to me– it’s just very special.”

This camaraderie made a difference. Through the training and teaching demonstrated, the team transformed Josh into an effective racer worthy of his position as a member of the varsity team. He helped lead his team to second place in the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe category at the prestigious 2024 Ken Garff esports Spring Celebration event.

Provo High’s regularly high ranking at the Ken Garff esports competitions has made Provo High a premier school for esports in Utah. This has attracted attention from UVU recruiters and positioned the school to nurture future collegiate esports stars.

The attention and the win are worthy of praise, but we are just as proud of our esports groups’ teamwork. They helped Josh grow as a player and invited him into their community. To quote Josh:

“Having the community of people here– they’re a lot of fun, and extremely nice. It’s been fun getting to know and interacting with them more.”

Josh Zimmerman’s journey from novice to varsity player shows what dedication and teamwork can accomplish, and the road ahead for Josh and the Provo High’s Mario Kart esports team is bright. We look forward to the future of our esports programs and thank our community for their support.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei