Photo Courtesy of Jack Munhall ’20 | Brophy’s Rocket League team defeated Valley Christian High School 4-0 in a best-of-seven series to win the first ever AIA Esports state championship.
By Kaidan Linse ’20
Seen primarily in Piper Hall or the Innovative Tech Commons, Mr. Birgenheir is always busy at work. During his six-year tenure at Brophy, he has accomplished many feats such as being one of the first ever esports coaches and teaching high-level math courses to students.
However, at the conclusion of the 2019-20 academic school year, Mr. Birgenheir plans to leave Brophy with his wife to start anew in Missouri.
Mr. Birgenheir is known for his work in the math department, but also as the first esports coach at Brophy to lay the groundwork for a program that was tremendously successful in its inaugural season.
Inside the classroom, Mr. Birgenheir is known for his occasional Fortnite dances and his welcoming classroom environment.
Asher Josephs ’20, a student in his honors calculus class, loves Mr. Birgenheir’s polite and humorous attitude towards himself and his fellow students.
“He is a really funny guy that is willing to put himself out there to brighten other people’s day,” said Josephs.
When asked how so, Josephs was quick to mention Fortnite.
“One day, Mr. Birgenheir did a Fortnite dance in front of the entire class to make us laugh just because we all got above a certain score on the most recent test we took,” Josephs says.
“I think that is something he will always be remembered for,” Josephs says.
In addition to all the funny moments, Josephs also mentioned the hospitality Mr. Birgenheir brings to his teaching.
“Aside from being super easy to approach and talk to, Mr. Birgenheir also waits around after class to talk with us and help us with work just as any good teacher would do,” Josephs said.
Apart from his work within the classroom and to escape from all the chaos of teaching math, Mr. Birgenheir finds pleasure in gaming, something that is a hobby of his.
As a result, he became one of Brophy’s first ever esports coaches.
Jack Munhall ’20, a member of the Rocket League team, is sad to see Mr. Birgenheir go, but is grateful for the time he got to spend with him outside the classroom.
“Mr. Birgenheir was a fantastic coach. He managed to be a lot of fun to play under while also maintaining a certain amount of seriousness,” said Munhall.
“I know all of the Rocket League players will be very sad to see him go, but I am extremely grateful for the precedent he has set for coaching esports at Brophy,” Munhall said.
When asked about Mr. Birgenheir’s commitment to the team, Munhall admired his passion for the game which led him to feel more comfortable competing.
“It was nice having someone on the faculty who was as passionate about esports as all of us were. It was clear to me from the start that Mr. Birgenheir chose to coach our team because he truly wanted esports to succeed at Brophy,” Munhall says.
Aside from all the success the esports team managed to achieve, Munhall is most appreciative of the attitude Mr. Birgenheir brought to the table considering that esports is different from practically every other sport on campus in that the players usually have more experience in the game than the coaches.
“Because of this, coaching a team the same way you would coach basketball or soccer doesn’t really work,” Munhall says.
“I really appreciated that Mr. Birgenheir was upfront about this fact, and I think he managed to do a great job walking the line between being in charge of the team and giving us a certain degree of freedom to make decisions,” Munhall added.
Bringing Brophy its first ever esports championship in an undefeated fashion is primarily what Mr. Birgenheir will be remembered for as his time at Brophy comes to a close.
“I like to joke that whoever replaces me as esports coach has a lot to live up to since we did not lose a single game this past season,” Birgenheir said.
As for his future, Mr. Birgenheir just recently got married and plans to move to Missouri for his wife’s job teaching at the University of Missouri.
“My wife and I’s decision to move to Missouri this summer was not easy, but we agreed that it was the best decision for us and our family,” Birgenhier said.
When asked about what he will miss most about Brophy, Mr. Birgenheir was quick to respond.
“Seeing the students everyday for sure and building relationships with all you guys,” Birgenheir said.
As for his future plans, Mr. Birgenheir hopes he can find a teaching job at a school in Missouri. However, the process has been difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“No one is really looking to hire right now but hopefully I can figure it all out this summer,” Birgenheir said.
Since there is no formal goodbye for Mr. Birgenheir and all the other teachers and staff that are leaving at the conclusion of this year, make sure to express your gratitude to those virtually.