About Us

National Association of
Esports Coaches and Directors

The National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors (NAECAD – pronounced Nay-cad), founded in 2019, is the primary professional organization for competitive esports coaches and directors at all levels of competitive play (club, high school, college, and professional). The NAECAD mission is to serve, legitimize, and advance competitive esports at all levels with NAECAD members at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy, and professional development. The NAECAD vision is for esports to be viewed as a prominent competitive sport with highly trained NAECAD members leading the professional development, growth, and quality of competitive esports.

Our Core Values


We set and demonstrate the highest standards for esports coaches and directors in the field and in our organization.


We are knowledgeable, accessible, and provide professional development opportunities for esports coaches and directors.


We value the diversity of our members and other stakeholders and are inclusive to all levels of competitive esports.


We represent a strong voice of the coaches and directors within esports, and the overall promotion of the industry.

Code of Ethics

First and foremost, the NAECAD strives to live out its core values and uphold sportsmanship and ethics to the highest degree. The NAECAD will always strive to make the profession of esports coaching and directing better and create the best situation possible for the coaches, directors, student-athletes, and fans and all involved in the competitive esports community.

Code of Ethics icon
Constitution and By-Laws icon

Constitution and

NAECAD’s constitution and the governing rules of the association. The constitution sets the standards for membership, committee and board service, and much more.

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Jay Prescott headshot, NAECAD executive director
Dr. Jay Prescott, Executive Director

Jay is the Executive Director of the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors (NAECAD). The NAECAD’s mission is to serve, legitimize, and advance competitive esports at all levels with NAECAD members at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy, and professional development. Jay has spent the last thirty years in education. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education from Westmar College, a Master of Science in Education from Drake University, and his doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Drake University. Jay also attended the Harvard Institute for Educational Management (IEM), Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Institute for Graduate Education in Cambridge, MA. Jay spent ten years as a high school teacher, guidance counselor and coach, eight years as a high school principal and the last seventeen years as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Grand View University. He is currently the Midwest Region Director of Talent Advancement for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Dr. Jason Bauer, NAECAD associate director
Dr. Jason Bauer, Associate Director

Dr. Jason Bauer helped build the esports program at Grand View University and served as the Assistant Executive Director.  Jason brings an excellent combination of educational leadership, professional development, and coaching experience to NAECAD.  As a former Division I basketball player and coach, Jason has served in varying capacities developing athletes, coaching staffs, and programs.  He has a tremendous passion for training and development, understanding the significant role directors and coaches play in impacting the lives of student/athletes.

Cole Prescott, Chief Operating Officer

Cole is the Director of Esports at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, and has led that program since its inception in 2019. Before taking up leadership of the esports program at Northwestern College, he earned his bachelor's degree in computer science from Northwestern College and worked in IT support for a time. In his time as an esports director, Cole has coached two NAECAD All-Americans, hosted virtual & on campus esports camps for high school & middle school students, and hosted esports clinic sessions on various topics such as Effective Esports Film Review, Esports Facilities & Equipment, Student Development Strategies, and Student Discipline & Program Culture.

Connor Alne, Director of Membership Success

Connor "Coach" Alne has played an integral part in the development of scholastic esports. Connor first got involved in esports while achieving his bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa. During his time as an undergrad, he worked with RedBull to bring the first esports event to campus, started their esports club, and spent his free time hosting his own events. After graduation, he was brought out to Ottawa, Kansas, to lead the development of the Braves Esports program. Under his management, they built a state-of-the-art esports facility and successfully recruited students from all across the country. He then set his sights on high school esports, becoming the commissioner of the High School Esports League and helping to bring esports to thousands of schools. He even spent 3 months in an RV, traveling the country and building esports labs for 25 high schools. Throughout his career, he also built a social media following under the name Coach Alne, teaching about esports; was recognized at the 2020 Esports Awards; and published a book entitled "100 Jobs in Esports." Connor now brings his experience to NAECAD with the hopes of supporting the hard-working coaches, teachers, and directors that make this all possible.

Cody Daniels, Director of Marketing

Cody is the NAECAD Director of Marketing and NGame Media's Founder. Cody supports NAECAD's marketing efforts, social media, and newsletter. Cody also supports NAECAD events by capturing video and photo content. His company creates and manages social media for various organizations dedicated to esports and video games. He is passionate about building relationships and bringing people together to create opportunities.

Advisory Committee

The members of the advisory committee represent a group of
enthusiastic and experienced leaders in competitive esports.

Justin Bragg, Purdue University Northwest
Justin Bragg headshot

Justin Bragg is currently the head coach at Purdue University Northwest and has been in this role since April of 2020. Before his time at PNW, he served as the head coach at Illinois College from 2017-2020.  Accomplishments in his time at both schools include a 9-2 record in a shortened 2019 College League of Legends season at Illinois College, a perfect 3-0 start to the College League of Legends season this year with PNW and serving on the advisory committee for the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors.  Justin's background in esports is as a League of Legends player.  He played in the challenger series for team Inertia for 1 split before transitioning to 1 on 1 coaching and eventually college coaching.  He has been a challenger player for 5 different seasons. Justin is a native of the Chicagoland area and graduated from the University of Illinois in 2014 with a degree in Recreation, Sport and Tourism.

Shaun Byrne, St. Clair College
Shawn Byrne head shot

In January 2017, Shaun was hired by St. Clair College to act as Esports Coordinator. He is tasked with developing, implementing and managing a collegiate esports program at the college. This is a first of its kind collegiate program in Canada featuring seven separate esports teams with up to 40 players competing on scholarship for the school beginning in September 2017. In addition, his background in events management is being utilized to create Saints Gaming Live, a two-day annual esports event taking place at the St. Clair College SportsPlex along with several other smaller events held throughout the year.

Mark "Garvey" Candella, Twitch Student
Mark "Garvey" Candella head shot

The Twitch Student program was founded in early 2015 to foster sustainability and increase professionalism in esports by investing in education and students. We have a strong focus on education in Emerging, New and Digital Media through the medium of esports and gaming. This is a global program that works with national tournament organizers, student bodies, educational institutions and industry leaders to help ensure that Community, Competition and Careers are nurtured and supported in high schools and universities to create a brighter future for everyone.

Cody Daniels, NGame Esports
Cody Daniels head shot

Cody graduated from Texas A&M University in 2013 with a degree in sports management. Cody started in NGame Esports in May 2019 with the focus in providing content and analytics to a diverse group of organization in gaming and esports. Cody has used his background in retail and sports to help lead all aspects at NGameEsports. NGame Esports is located in Houston, TX.

Callum Fletcher, United Service Organizations
Callum Fletcher head shot

Shan Gupta, Founder of PocketFrog

Since 2020, Shan’s company PocketFrog has been an active esports sponsorship management agency. Shan, along with is team, identifies suitable sponsors for esports organizations, college/high school programs, tournaments and individual players. His industry knowledge enables him to identify key values of any audience and package it in attractive sponsorship packages. They reach out to appropriate sponsors, broker the deal and maintain the client throughout it’s lifetime.

Ryan Hinds, Concordia University and Nebraska Schools Esports Association
Ryan Hinds family

Ryan Hinds is the first esports coach to be hired at Concordia University, Nebraska. Hinds graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He previously worked at Chief Agri in Kearney, Nebraska, as a design engineer. Before becoming Concordia's esports coach, Hinds and his wife, Amanda, started the esports team at Elm Creek High School, one of the first high school esports teams in Nebraska. He coached the Elm Creek team for three years while also helping create the Nebraska Schools eSport Association (NSeSA), a nonprofit organization that promotes esports in Nebraska high schools.Hinds was awarded the High School Coach of the Year by the National Association of Esport Coaches and Directors (NAECAD) in June of 2020. He was also elected the President of the NSeSA in 2019 and has served on their board of directors since 2018.

Kevin Hoang, Twitch Student
Kevin Hoang head shot

The Twitch Student program was founded in early 2015 to foster sustainability and increase professionalism in esports by investing in education and students. We have a strong focus on education in Emerging, New and Digital Media through the medium of esports and gaming. This is a global program that works with national tournament organizers, student bodies, educational institutions and industry leaders to help ensure that Community, Competition and Careers are nurtured and supported in high schools and universities to create a brighter future for everyone.

Victoria Horsley, RIOT Games
Victoria Horsley head shot

Victoria has over 10 years of sports and esports experience, from running local tournaments to managing amateur teams, to competing herself at the semi-pro and amateur levels. She eventually took a role as Director of Events and Marketing at the National Association of Collegiate Esports, responsible for communications, social media, and tournament administration for all schools within the association’s jurisdiction. From there, she was made President of the Unified Collegiate Esports Association and Founder of the UCEA Brand where she served for just over a year before stepping away this past January to pursue other options in the industry, eventually ending up with RIOT games.

Dana Hustedt, Florida Institute of Technology
Dana Hustedt head shot

Dana Hustedt was the first female collegiate esports director in the United States. Dana propelled Grand View University to national esports recognition from eight to fifty students over four years with nine program graduates and consecutive ESPN Top 20 Collegiate rankings. Dana is now the Director of Esports at Florida Tech Institute of Technology. Dana is has served as a NAECAD advisory committee member since its inception.

Danielle Johnson, Barbara Bush Middle School

Danielle is a Design & Technology teacher at Barbara Bush Middle School in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD near Dallas, Texas. She is passionate about racial and educational equity.

She is a Certified Google Innovator working to bring Esports to K12 schools. Danielle wants to help schools design esports programs that focus on equity, inclusion, and citizenship. 

Danielle is one of the hosts of the Esports Edu stream and podcast airing Wednesday. She was featured in the October 2018 issue of Education Weekly and presented at ISTE in 2018 and 2019. Before teaching CTE courses, she was a digital learning coach, taught 6th grade World Cultures, 9th grade World Geography, and 11th grade U.S. History. Danielle has a BA in journalism from Baylor University and an MEd in special education from Texas Tech University. 



Josh Knutson, Gravity Gaming by ByteSpeed
Josh Knutson head shot

JoshKnutson is the Esports and VR Solutions Director for Bytespeed, LLC – aMoorhead, MN based IT Solutions Company. Josh got his start in esports back in2016 when he started the varsity level program at the University of Jamestown(ND) and served as its first Head Coach and Program Director for the next 3.5years. In his current role with Bytespeed, Josh serves as a resource, product specialist, and guide for customers looking to bring esports or virtual reality into their schools. Josh has been involved with NAECAD since its initial launch, and is currently an Advisory Board Member for the Association. Born and raised in rural North Dakota, Josh currently lives in Fargo.

Kurt Melcher, Intersport Global
Kurt Melcher head shot

Kurt Melcher is theExecutive Director, Gaming and Esports at Intersport. Through his efforts, RMU became the first university to recognize esports as part of the athletic department and offer athletic scholarships to gamers, helping to legitimize the world of collegiate esports. An athletic administrator for 15 years, Melcher recognized the core educational elements involved in traditional sports and believes the same hold true for esports.  Recently the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has selected Kurt Melcher led Intersport Esports group to lead the research and ideation surrounding NCAA’s potential involvement in collegiate esports. The “Godfather” of University Esports visionary program has been highlighted in a number of prominent news sources including The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Time magazine, The Chicago Tribune,Chicago Magazine, ESPN, NPR, HBO Real Sports and in the documentary film AllWork All Play.

James O'Hagan, The Academy of Esports
James O'Hagan head shot

James O'Hagan is a leader in connecting and promoting esports in education. He has had a role in starting and growing esports teams in two large urban school districts. He actively promotes esports as being a medium to something more for students beyond the games. His podcast, The Academy of Esports delves into topics surrounding esports and education and connecting into powerful ideas to increase student agency, motivation, and college and career pathways. James is a doctoral candidate at Northern Illinois University in the field of instructional technology and a mostly retired rugby player.

Nathan Ragsdell, Grand View University
Nathan Ragsdell head shot

Ragsdell pursued a path to professional ranks in Overwatch after graduating from the University of Nebraska - Omaha. Most recently, he served as the Esports Director and Head Coach at Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska. Notable successes include his League of Legends team's 2nd place and Overwatch's 1st place finish in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC), culminating with an Overwatch 2nd place finish in the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) national competition and competing in the TESPA national playoffs. Ragsdell now serves as the Director of Esports at Grand View University.

Joshua Sides, Winthrop University
Joshua Sides head shot

Josh Sides began as the first-ever head coach for Winthrop esports on April 16, 2019. Sides has been an active member in the League of Legends community since its first competitive season in 2010, and has an extensive background in coaching and studying the meta-game of both League of Legends and Overwatch, two games that Winthrop eSports will initially play. Sides came to his new position at Winthrop after leading the varsity program at St. Ambrose University (IA), which he helped launch in 2018.  In the program's inaugural season, Sides led the Fighting Bees to third place finishes at the Harrisburg University Esports Invitational and the Acer League of Legends Invitational. Additionally, three of his players were invited to the Collegiate Esports Invitational All-Star Tournament in Chicago.

Derek Spinell, University of Mount Union
Derek Spinell head shot

Derek Spinell is the Director and Head Coach of Esports at the University of Mount Union. Spinell earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication technology from The Ohio State University. He joins the Mount Union community with over five years of esports industry experience. During his time at Ohio State, he held leadership roles in the Esports Initiative student organization. He was a part of the 2014 Riot Games Collegiate Summit in Santa Monica, California at Riot Games’ Headquarters, an event that brought together collegiate leaders to discuss the state of collegiate esports. He has also been an events contractor for Major League Gaming since 2013.

Mike Szostek, Olivet Nazarene University
Mike Szostek head shot

Mike is an Olivet alumnus (’15), Professor for the Department of Art and Digital Media, specializing in the Media Arts concentration, Director of Esports for Recreation Services, and System Administrator/Analyst for the IT Department. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Olivet, and a Master of Science degree in music technology from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He is also an Apple Teacher with Swift Playgrounds Recognition and an AVID-certified Pro Tools User. He is currently pursuing additional graduate work in game development, media design, and computer science.

Alli Vandermyde, Davenport Community School District
Alene Vandermyde head shot

Alli Vandermyde is the Curriculum Specialist for Career and Technical Education and Concurrent Enrollment  from Davenport Community School District in Iowa, as well as the Robotics Coach and Esports Coordinator for Davenport Central High School. She is also the founding member and Past President of the Iowa High School Esports Association. Recipient of the 2020 NAECAD High School Director of the Year, Alli has advocated loudly for schools starting up their own esports programs, acting as mentor and sounding board when needed. Wearing as many hats as she does, Alli attempts to make everything as automatic and streamlined as possible. Five years into the esports journey, she has figured out that organization is the key to not going crazy...at least when it works.

Donna “BasicTaq” Walters, California State University

Donna “BasicTaq” Walters is creating a global college esports ecosystem because she is grateful for her community.  Utilizing unique skillsets and innovative practices, she focuses on four main pillars for success: Education, Competition, Community, and Entertainment.  As the founder of the Cal State Esports Collective, Donna is actively unifying and engaging students, administrators, faculty, staff, and industry leaders to provide system-wide support for all 23 California State University campuses. Additionally, she has created and executed successful inaugural events and initiatives for large brands such as Big Sky Conference, California State Fair, all three California higher education spaces, NBC Sports, Golden 1 Center, and others.  Donna has been invited to speak on the topic of college esports during ACUI, Educause, Esports Trade Association, Liquid Hacks 2.0, and other key events on what it takes to establish and execute sustainable collegiate esports initiatives on campuses.  

Matt King, National Junior College Athletic Association Esports
NAECAD Partner - National Junior College Athletic Association Esports

NJCAAE welcomed Matt King as the inaugural manager of Esports in September 2021. King has been working in collegiate Esports for 4 years. Since 2018, he has either founded or consulted on the development of collegiate programs across the United States. Prior to King's role at NJCAAE, he worked as the Esports Coordinator at the University of North Dakota, developing the first comprehensive competitive and academic Esports programs in the state. Before working in collegiate Esports, King volunteered his time to managing and coaching multiple new and semi-pro esport organizations, focusing on League of Legends.

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