Bethel Tabs Alec Betz as First Esports Coach in Program History
MISHAWAKA – Athletic Director Tony Natali is pleased to announce that Alec Betz has been named the first head coach in Bethel Esports program history.
“We’re excited to have someone with Alec’s knowledge of Esports initiating our program here at Bethel University,” stated Natali. “The fact that he is a Bethel grad and has a heart for student-athletes is a definite plus also. Alec knows the expectations of what a “Pastor Coach” means here at Bethel and will execute that very well.”
A Graphic Designer for It’s Tops in Mishawaka, Betz graduated from Bethel in 2015 with a degree in Visual Arts. He was a four-year member of the men’s track and field team, competing in the long jump.
“It’s really exciting to come back to Bethel,” stated Betz. “Gaming is something we all did, we had a club to play League of Legends, so it’s cool to see it grow into something real and acknowledged by the Board of Trustees as a varsity sport.
During his time at Bethel, Betz got into the world of competitive Esports, even playing competitive Call of Duty for a few years. He traveled with an amateur team and competed with tournaments. As Call of Duty became less popular for Esports, Betz began to immerse himself in League of Legends and has been involved in the popular Esports title for over five years.
“Tony started the track and field program from nothing—and I’ll never be able to match his accomplishments—but hopefully I’ll make the League of Legends Esports team something one day,” expressed Betz. “I’ve realized that my game knowledge is much higher than my game skill. I think I’ll be able to teach others a lot about the game and also show my team how to study and analyze the game.”
A partnership with the City of South Bend will give the program a dedicated practice facility within the state-of-the-art LAN café and access to a 600-seet Esports arena with Bethel organizing and hosting competitions at the Century Center. The Center’s Bendix Theatre (soon to be Bendix Arena) is undergoing a $2 million renovation to create space for Esports activities and competitions.
Jeff Jarnecke, executive director of venues for the City of South Bend, is excited about the partnership with Bethel. “As we learned more of President Chenoweth’s vision for what a Bethel University Esports program could be, we quickly knew there was great potential in a partnership and hopefully long-term relationship,” he says. “Working to establish Bendix Arena as the premier Esports facility in the Midwest, it was important to have partners who shared in this desire. We are honored to have Bethel University and its new team call Bendix Arena home and look forward to helping them not only create lifelong memories for their students but capture championships as well.”
The Pilots will compete in League of Legends, Overwatch, and possibly a third game to be determined at a later date. They will compete in the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) beginning immediately in the fall of 2020 and are currently seeking conference affiliation until the Crossroads League is ready to organize Esports as a recognized sport. The Pilots join Mount Vernon Nazarene as the only other Crossroads League institution to formally announce an esports varsity program.
The addition of Esports will bring Bethel to a total of 29 intercollegiate teams that compete. The Pilots most recently added Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving and Men’s and Women’s Bowling in the 2018-19 season. In addition to the varsity program, the university will also begin a club sport open to all students.