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Timothy Belloff is the Director of Esports at Arcadia University
Arcadia University launches in Fall '19, and looks to the future with hiring 5 new coaches and has a new 1,500 square foot facility.
Animation Career Review: What are the esports in which your school participates?
Timothy Belloff: Arcadia will be competing this year in Hearthstone, Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League. Each sport will have its own dedicated head coach that is responsible for their game.
ACR: If you offer esports scholarships, please describe your program (full ride, in-state only, etc)
TB: At this point we are not offering scholarships for esports players. We currently compete in D3 for NCAA which doesn’t allow for scholarships to athletes, but we are evaluating this as esports is not governed by the NCAA and we do have the ability to offer scholarships if we choose.
ACR: Please fill us in on your recruiting efforts. How are potential students identified? Key stats? What can a student do to connect with your program?
TB: For our first year competing we will be recruiting students from our current student population to fill our teams. As the year progresses we will begin recruiting from High Schools for new esport athletes coming into Arcadia. Our hope is to attract students who may not have heard of Arcadia and let them see the effort we are putting into this new endeavor. Students can follow us on social media @esportsarcadia (Twitter and Instagram) or through Discord at ArcadiaKnights#4778
ACR: Esports are new to everyone. Please share with us the story of how your program came to fruition.
TB: Early in 2018 athletics began seeing esports rise around them at other institutions in our athletics conference. It was brought up at an Athletics Director meeting and they were unsure of how to deal with it. At the same time, I was discussing the possibility of doing esports at Arcadia and I was connected with Brian Granata the Athletics Director. We began having conversations with other interested parties around campus and got the ball moving. We were able to secure support from our administration utilizing an esports advisory group. We selected games, found a location for an arena and now have hired coaches.
ACR: Describe the type of student are you seeking.
TB: We are an inclusive open and welcoming environment and seek any student who is passionate about obtaining a degree from Arcadia University, while participating in esports.
ACR: As esports are so new, what are the common misconceptions people have about them?
TB: The most common misconception is that esports is male students just playing video games without any goals or reasons. We hope to combat this as esports is our only true co-ed sport that we offer.
ACR: What are the common concerns you hear from parents regarding esports participation?
TB: Many concerns stem from parents concerned about how much time is going to be spent playing games. We will have academic monitoring with our student athletes as well as minimum GPA requirements to participate on our teams. This is a varsity sport and it will be treated as such by coaches, staff, and athletics administration.
ACR: Tell us about the season. What other schools are in your division and conference? How many opportunities are there to compete for a student athlete?
TB: We will be competing as members of NACE (National Association of Collegiate Esports) and ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference). We plan on entering many tournaments and completions. Each game has different seasons and competition schedules but all the athletes will have many opportunities to compete at a high level. We are joined by 8 other colleges or universities in our athletics conference that sponsor esports.
ACR: What can an esports student athlete expect in terms of time commitment? How many hours of play, practice, travel?
TB: Esports is unique in that there will be very little travel as most competitions and tournaments are all done online. There is no need to travel. As this is a varsity sport, there will be some time commitments for practice and competitions. Most of the time it will be around 10-15 hours a week in organized team activities.
ACR: What are the academic expectations? Are there minimum GPA requirements? Do you offer study tables or other programs to support the student athletes?
TB: The minimum GPA requirements will mirror those of our varsity athletic programs. All students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits, be making progress for a degree, and be in good academic standing. All freshmen must have a minimum semester and cumulative GPA of 1.75. After their freshman year, all students must have a 2.0 cumulative GPA, as well as a semester GPA of a 2.0 or higher. Each coach will have their own academic monitoring program that may require study hall, and meetings as the coach sees necessary.
ACR: Share with us how your team is doing this season.
TB: We haven’t started competing yet. Students come back to campus next week and we plan on hitting the ground running. We look to have tryouts for our teams, and begin competing shortly after.
ACR: Tell us about your coaching staff.
TB: We have hired a Director of Esports, as well as four head coaches for each game –
Director of Esports - Tim Belloff
Hearthstone – Bill Rodgers
League of Legends – Josh Franklin
Rocket League – Brian Curcio
Overwatch – Airii Coad
ACR: Tell us about your esports practice and/or competition facilities.
TB: We are hoping that our facility is a differentiator for us. It is a 1,500 square foot space that has been renovated over this summer to house esports. Teams will compete in an arena equipped with 36 high-end gaming PCs (Alienware Aurora Machines), multiple console-based systems, and a projection system for coaches to use for film study and game reviews. The space also includes coaches offices and a players' lounge. In addition to the competitive athletics program, the arena will be available to various groups on campus, such as the Gaming Club, and have specified open usage hours.
ACR: Please share any unique qualities of your program (first one in state, emphasis on team)
TB: We will be one of the 9 teams in our conference that offers esports. We are heavily focusing on building a collaborative team that will work together and provide students a creative outlet for playing competitive video games while pursuing a high quality degree.
ACR: What advice do you have for prospective students wanting to pursue esports, as well as those specifically seeking esports scholarships?
TB: Get yourself out there and be seen. Esports is all about people knowing who you are. Get yourself on recruitment sites and make sure you have highlights for your accomplishments.
ACR: In what ways do participants in collegiate esports programs benefit?
TB: Students who compete as a part of a collegiate team are more confident in their abilities and have an outlet for competing that they may not have had if they were not a part of an esports team. The coaching staff and support staff also serve as resources for students to use in their time at Arcadia. We want to see our esports programs graduating all participants, and moving on in their gaming career, or in their field of study.
ACR: Tell us about your goals for your program. (Do you expect to add more sports, scholarships, etc)
TB: Our goal is for this program to grow where we recruit students solely to compete in esports. We are hoping to add more sports as we grow and to be able to offer scholarships as we move forward.
ACR: From a competitive esports standpoint, what is the single most significant moment or accomplishment that stands out in your program’s brief history?
TB: This fall will be our first time competing so we don’t have anything that stands out as of yet, but I expect that to change real soon, starting with the completion of our arena.
Check out more interviews at Animation Career Review's Interview Series.