BELMONT, N.C. -- Belmont Abbey College is adding esports to its intercollegiate offerings, Director of Athletics Stephen Miss announced today. The program, which is the school's 40th, will begin competing in fall 2019.
"After much healthy discussion and thoughtful analysis, we are excited to begin competing this fall in esports—the fastest growing sport worldwide in terms of participants and spectators," Miss said. "Throughout our discernment process, we have been intentional, deliberate, and selective so as to ensure that not only our program's leadership but also the individual games in which we compete are in line with the College's overall mission and the Athletic Department's "Sport and Virtue" philosophy. Esports, the most recent addition to the now-forty sponsored opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics at Belmont Abbey College, provides yet another means to form and develop young ladies and men. Consequently, we believe the Esports culture will benefit from our participation and our emphasis on sport as a vehicle for realizing the virtually limitless potential for excellence and virtue each and every one of us possesses."
Miss also announced that Nathan Berggrun will serve as the program's first head coach. A lifelong game enthusiast and a competitive Madden player, he earned his bachelor's degree from UNC Charlotte in 2010 and added a master's degree in Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior from the University of Tennessee the following year. Berggrun has worked in the areas of physical and mental training for athletes over the last five years.
"I am very excited to help bring esports to Belmont Abbey College," Berggrun said. "Belmont Abbey is joining the new frontier in college athletics in their creation of a varsity esports program. There may be no activity that is more inclusive than esports – there really are no boundaries to who can play, compete, watch, and interact.
"I would like to thank our Chancellor, Abbott Placid Solari, President, Dr. William Thierfelder, and Director of Athletics, Stephen Miss, for the opportunity to lead student-athletes and build the esports program."
The team will participate in the games of FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K, Rocket League, and League of Legends.