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Samanga Amarasingher is the Head Coach of Esports Programs at Bellevue University
We recently spoke with Samanga Amarasingher, the Head Coach of Esports Programs at Bellevue University about commitment to academic balance and competition.
Animation Career Review: What are the esports in which your school participates?
- League of Legends
ACR: If you offer esports scholarships, please describe your program.
SA: Yes, we do offer scholarships for the esports players, the scholarship covers Books and Tuition.
ACR: Please fill us in on your recruiting efforts. How are potential students identified?
SM: The potential students are identified through game play during scrimmages, high school visits, potential candidate applications submission from our website as well as other online mediums as discord also sometimes by observing CLOL and TESPA rankings and through recruiting conventions .
ACR: What can a student do to connect with your program?
SM: They need to be at least in upper level player, does not need to be top 80% but at least show progress of being an active and avid player to match up with other schools or players. Then also have maintained a decent academic GPA minimum 2.5 once in expectation is 3.0.
ACR: Esports are new to everyone. Please share with us the story of how your program came to fruition.
SM: The esports program at Bellevue University began with the esports boom three years back, seeing this being a way for many of the once abandoned sect of candidates to get a chance to secure a high level college education for their future. In elaborating more, while the football player and the active athlete even the good musician of a family is seen as having the potential for a solid future with a University education. The introvert gamer of the family is always left behind, but with the emergence of esports the gamer that was once left behind now has the potential to thrive in what they like as everyone cannot be an active athlete to secure scholarships. Thus taking this opportunity to support these prospective students the best with low cost for them Bellevue University build its own arena housing close to 20 Alienware systems to support their endeavor better and started the program by offering scholarships, now giving even the last of the left behind a chance to support themselves and their passion while securing a solid education.
ACR: As esports are so new, what are the common concerns you hear from students and parents regarding esports participation?
SM: The most common concern most students and parents have is the Pro Dream, many of the esports players being young and immature, they tend to focus more on the Pro dream and not complete their education and jump ship to play with a mature and pro teams to build their rankings. While some make it many fall and the fall sometimes is hard for the players, family and the teams which they would play in.
ACR: Tell us about the season. What other schools are in your division and conference?
SM: We play in many tournaments attending annual conference at the University of Kansas, Wichita, Kansas State, Harrisburg, as well as compete is CLOL and TESPA. What is more Bellevue University, also hosts an annual convention in April aligning with Midwest esports where the team compete with local schools.
ACR: How many opportunities are there to compete for a student athlete?
SM: Well thousands just considering all the pre game scrimmages with other collegiate universities, and clubs, as well as thousands of collegiate contenders for CLOL and TESPA, it is a huge pool.
ACR: What can an esports student athlete expect in terms of time commitment? How many hours of play, practice, travel?
SM: Most esports players alone commit close to 8 - 12 hours a day for game play, because in allocating time for homework, the practices run in the evening Monday to Thursday ( 3:00 PM - 10:00 PM), then friday is a rest day and weekend unless their scrims are extended for at will game play and home work. During tournaments travel time varies based on what school, what convention.
ACR: What are the academic expectations? Are there minimum GPA requirements? Do you offer study tables or other programs to support the student athletes?
SM: The students coming in are not mandated to have held a high GPA while many students have maintained a good GPA for high school and college, most due to their time spent perfecting the game would have low GPA’s. Once they arrive and become part of Bellevue University esports they are expected to maintain at least 2.6 GPA minimum to graduate.
But during their course in the Bellevue University we have mandatory Prep (study hall) time on fridays and on the weekends to make sure students are caught up. Same time upholding the CLOL and TESPA guidelines the competition team must maintain a passing GPA to compete or a 3.0. Thus the student show great interest in balancing the game and school work.
ACR: Tell us about your coaching staff.
SM: Presently there is one head coach and the team captains supporting the players but as the team grows there is the potential for an assistant coach position to be opened in the long run.
ACR: Please share any unique qualities of your program.
SM: One unique quality is through the program it bring a diverse population and it compels them to work with each other to face differences head on and overcome them as well as work together in resolving and overcoming challenges. With our outreach programs as talking and working with high schools in introducing esports it gives them a chance to be exposed, vulnerable and overcome those as well as teach them civic duties and community responsibilities. Collectively being part of the Bellevue University’s esports program not only mold the young athletes as great pro esports player but what a university education should do: teach them to face the world with confidence, and become advocates of social change, and good scholar practitioners.
ACR: What advice do you have for prospective students wanting to pursue esports, as well as those specifically seeking esports scholarships?
SM: Play hard and do your best, thrive to reach the top and same way apply the lessons learned in the game patience, persistence, choosing battles, understanding limits and pushing them in a healthy manner to your academics and life. That way you would become a well rounded individual with a strong backing to face any challenge life will throw at you.
ACR: Tell us about your goals for your program.
SM: Yes, once the main servers get cleared and present a good platform for zero hacking like LOL and OW I plan on introducing APEX legend this fall.
ACR: From a competitive esports standpoint, what is the single most significant moment or accomplishment that stands out in your program’s brief history?
SM: Reaching the top during the Harrisburg conference last year for the OW, and standing undefeated till the last rounds during the TESPA this year 2019.
Check out more interviews at Animation Career Review's Interview Series.