HCC spotlight shines on national award pair

Harris honored with national esports awardFinch honored with national esports award
November 5 -
Hart Career Center (HCC) teacher Amy Harris was recognized when chosen by the
National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors (NAECAD) as the High School Director of the Year. 

Coach Amy Harris began the eSports program at HCC in November 2015 with one League of Legends team of five players. The teams have fluctuated over the years but now have a good core of around twenty kids across all teams. To the school’s best knowledge, HCC has the oldest scholastic program in Missouri and also predates many of the collegiate programs. 

The high school team competes as Hart Career Center, composed of HCC students plus any students that would like to join from MHS, MMS, and Mexico Education Center (MEC). 

Amy was honored to be recognized by her peers, sharing, “The esports community here is so important to our team members, and to all of the teams around the state. I am grateful for the privilege and honor of further opportunities that will be available to players.” Amy was recently invited to join the NAECAD National Advisory Board, which gives her a voice in guiding the new and evolving programs for K-12 esports.

In addition to her responsibilities as an esports coach at HCC, Amy has been a NASEF Scholastic Fellow, Mentor, and Community Leader, served on the MOSEF Board of Directors, and organized several competitions and events. She is active with ISEA, and has been published in Tech & Learning Magazine. Her presence in the eSports community also landed her several presentation offers, including NAECAD and MOSEF.

Amy shares the spotlight with student Logan Finch, a 2023 MHS graduate. Logan was recognized by NAECAD as the Player of the Year. 

Amy nominated Logan for Player of the Month in 2022, which made him eligible for an All American Award, which she expected him to receive. However, the National High School Player of the Year award was an exciting surprise! Logan was a state finalist in Smash Solos last fall and finished in the top 10% of the state. He was also captain of the Valorant team in the spring and led the team to a third place finish in the region. 

Coach Harris shared, “Logan was always very proactive in supporting new players and recruiting and leading his team. He was also our overall organization vice-president.” This fall, Logan is attending State Tech and playing for the Smash team.

The HCC esports team values and shares their camaraderie through service. The teams provide booths at the summer and fall state games for the Special Olympics of Missouri, where they set up Mario Kart and Switch Sports (tennis and chambara) for SOMO athletes to hang out and play during their downtime. The students serve as supervisors and support staff at each station.

In December, Coach Harris will travel to Dreamhack Atlanta with two MHS seniors, William Bingham and Octavian Jeffries. On the first day, she will be a panelist, and the students will be poster presenters for NASEF at the Esports Summit. In the following two days, they will be competing in their first “major” in both solo and duo Smash Ultimate tournaments.

NAECAD is a professional organization for competitive esports coaches and directors. They provide online and in-person professional development, resources for program and student opportunities, and a space for community and networking.