Shaun Byrne, St. Clair College’s Esports Director, has been named National Esports Director of the Year by the national organization of professionals in the field.
The National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors (NAECAD) recognized the significant contribution and outstanding leadership Byrne brought to St. Clair College’s esports team, program, school, and to the entire esports ecosystem.
"Getting recognized for this award is an immense honour but it would not have been possible without the help of dedicated coaches, support staff, players and student leaders. On a tight budget, they have put their hearts and souls into creating tremendous value for St. Clair College and the student body," Byrne said.
St. Clair College was the first post-secondary institution in Canada to fully embrace varsity esports. Starting in January 2019, Byrne also began serving as program coordinator and faculty lead for the Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship academic program, one of only a handful of programs in the world training students for careers in the esports industry.
"Shaun is the driving force behind esports at St. Clair College," said Jim Marsh, dean of the Zekelman School of Business and Information Technology.
"First he led the St. Clair College Esports Team and then developed and launched the Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship Diploma program. He is now working on the new St. Clair College multi-million dollar Esports Arena which breaks ground shortly and will be the premier esports facility in the country. Shaun has shown leadership in all of these areas and has developed a very talented team around him of both players and faculty."
Dawson Lovell, St. Clair College’s Call of Duty team captain and coach, was also recognized in receiving All-American status by NAECAD, the only Canadian esports athlete to be awarded the prestigious title. This award recognizes Lovell for his balance of athletic achievement, sportsmanship and citizenship. While elite performance in-game is important, the All-American award is aimed at recognizing the overall impact the individual has made.
"I'm proud that the amount of work that was put into creating this team from scratch didn't go unnoticed. To be recognized for that dedication feels incredible," said Lovell. "Credit also goes to the hard work and dedication of my teammates as they consistently balanced practices and matches with their schoolwork, which I made clear to everyone, must come first."
Lovell, a first-year interior design student, was the driving factor behind the success of the college's Call of Duty team, which he founded this past January. A leader in-game and out, Lovell leads by example prioritizing his team's schoolwork while maintaining an active practice and game schedule.
Originally starting at the club level with his team, Lovell and his teammates blossomed into one of the college's most successful teams finishing with a 10-7 record in the College COD League (CCL). Their CCL success, in addition to their drive and determination, earned the team a promotion to Junior Varsity status and distinction as the first Saints Academy team. The promotion earned them a position in the Tespa Varsity Invitational League where they compiled a 10-1 record and a 2nd place regular-season finish.
About Saints Gaming
St. Clair’s Varsity Esports Program has 10 esports teams competing in leagues such as NACE, Tespa, Collegiate Star League, and more. Teams compete in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Echo Arena VR . The program provides a competitive, friendly, gaming environment focusing on education and teamwork where players hone their skills with the help of faculty, coaches, and staff.
NAECAD, founded in 2019, is the primary professional organization for competitive esports coaches and directors at all levels of competitive play (club, high school, college, and professional). NAECAD’s mission is to serve, legitimize, and advance competitive esports at all levels with NAECAD members at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy, and professional development. NAECAD’s vision is for esports to be viewed as a prominent competitive sport with highly trained NAECAD members leading the professional development, growth, and quality of competitive esports.