National Esports Coach and Director of Year Awards 2020-2021

June 7, 2021

Derek Spinell of University of Mount Union, Alliance, OH, has been named the college NAECAD National Esports Director of the Year for 2020-21.  Zach Harrington of Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA, has been named the college NAECAD National Esports Coach of the Year for 2020-21. Daniel Velasquez of Case High School, Racine, WI, has been named the high school NAECAD National Director of the Year for 2020-21. Andrew Bechtel of Hickman High School, Columbia, MO, has been named the high school NAECAD National Coach of the Year for 2020-21. 

College Esports Director of the Year - Derek Spinell, The University of Mount Union, OH

Derek Spinell of University of Mount Union, Alliance, OH, is the Director and Head Coach of the inaugural esports program at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, OH. Since the program's inception in 2018, Derek has singlehandedly directed the esports program at Mount Union. A member of the Mount Union esports program said this about Derek, “He runs the stream, manages all players, is there for all three teams during practice days, and consistently goes above and beyond for his players day in and day out. Derek's leadership skills permeate through all three teams he coaches, and is an excellent role model for all players that play under the Mount Union Esports banner. Derek has no assistant coaches, or staff, yet continues to provide the best of the best for his players every day, all while doing it by himself. Whether it's being a friend to players, preparing for tough matchups, making sure the student athletes’ grades are where they need to be, getting us the best gear possible, or being there for a pep talk mid-match... Derek does it all.” Derek has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication Technology from Ohio State University where he was a collegiate esports student leader. In addition to his collegiate experience, Derek was an events contractor for Major League Gaming from 2012-2019.


College Esports Coach of the Year - Zach Harrington, Shenandoah University, VA

Zach Harrington of Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA, coaches all varsity titles at Shenandoah University (Overwatch, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate). He coached the Rocket League teams to playoff appearances in NACE, PlayVS, and MAEC competitions. Zach also coached the Smash team to a top 8 finish in NACE competition. As a computer and technology enthusiast, his technical expertise has helped grow the Shenandoah University esports program by enabling them to run multiple successful live esports events, as well as build a state-of-the art esports spectator arena which includes a broadcast production room used for live streaming and content creation. Zach is a co-founder of GHS Esports Solutions, a consulting firm which provides information on a wide range of esports-related topics, including starting an esports program, coaching, team building, and hardware requirements.


High School Esports Director of the Year - Daniel Velasquez, Case High School, WI

Daniel Velasquez of Case High School, Racine, WI, is the Director and Coach of the esports program at Case High School. Daniel was part of the esports program creation three years ago and he continually grows the program each year. Besides the normal practice/play duties, he has gone above and beyond to make the esport program successful. Daniel was the first in the district to make connections with college teams, set up mentors for his players, get students to shoutcast, develop jerseys, social media, artwork and branding, and develop the esports program website. He meets with students weekly to check to discuss grades/wellness/attendance, and any additional support needed to build upon student success. Dan is active in the state of Wisconsin esports association (WIHSEA) discord and is a strong voice for esports. Daniel’s nominators had this to say, “Dan is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever met. He is trying to improve the esports program constantly and pushes his fellow coaches to do the same. He puts in a ton of hours in this task and is excited about it. Our district has 5 high school teams, and Daniel is key in making sure that we are at the top for our players. He has an awesome ability to be relevant to all of his players.” 

High School Esports Coach of the Year - Andrew Bechtel, Hickman High School, MO

Andrew Bechtel of Hickman High School, Columbia, MO, coaches all game titles at Hickman High School (Overwatch, Rocket League, League of Legends, and Super Smash Brothers). Andrew lead all of the teams into the playoffs with the Rocket League and League of Legends teams winning state championships. In addition, the Rocket League team went on to win the Spring NASEF National Championship. Coach Bechtel’s nominator had this to say, “During this crazy year of COVID which featured four different learning environments and multiple student quarantines and positive test results, Coach Bechtel kept the esports family together. He used the program as a way to keep students engaged in school and to make sure they were physically and mentally okay. What is most telling is the number of parents who reached out and expressed how much they appreciate Coach Bechtel for making their student feel appreciated. He goes above and beyond to stream every event often doing the play by play himself and on top of a long day of teaching. Our program would be nothing without him. I am sure there are many coaches deserving of this award but I think you will be challenged to find one who puts student's first while helping them achieve excellence.”

 

These prestigious awards recognize the outstanding leadership qualities a coach and director have made to its team, program, school, and to the entire esports ecosystem during the 202-21 school year, and help fulfill the mission of NAECAD. 

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