Nov 6, 2023
Member Spotlight - Derrick Arnold
Derrick Arnold (he/him), is the Director of Athletics and Coordinator of Student Engagement at Johnston Community College (JCC) and has been for the last ten years.
How did you get involved with esports and why is it important to you?
“I was at our Region 10 AD’s meeting and another institution was reporting on their experience at a conference they attended with esports. After that meeting, I began looking deeper into the possibilities of bringing this intercollegiate offering to Johnston Community College. I partnered with Microsoft for an on-campus demonstration and the college President at the time came to hear the presentation offered by Microsoft. The rest has been a locomotive JCC Jaguar Esports train from then on,” said Arnold, “Esports is important to me because it gives us another touch point with students and in particular students you would not normally reach through traditional student activities programming or traditional intercollegiate sport offerings. We have the ability to engage students where they want to be engaged, on their terms and in their environments, gaming. The ability to offer students opportunities to earn scholarships to four-year institutions as a student-athlete is AWESOME.”
Arnold explained that numerous students who have earned scholarships had no idea how they were going to afford college after JCC and now they are not only in college pursuing their academic dreams, but doing so as a student-athlete gaming.
The JCC Jaguars esports team is now moving into their third season at the NJCAAE and is excited to see what is to come. They have about 25 students on their team with a good mix of new players and veterans.
“All of our players have a unique story in how they have come to compete on the team. Rather they read an article on our former student-athlete Taylor Thimmesh, who signed a Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deal for esports and is now at Concord University on scholarship for Rocket League, or they walked by our gaming arena and saw how cool it looked and wanted to be a part of it, or inquired about one of the million emails I send out recruiting student-athletes to our program,” said Arnold.
Arnold said the biggest challenges that come with collegiate esports are financial funding, legitimacy of sport-acknowledgment that their students are true athletes, and publicizing/marketing their program to the surrounding community.
“I’m excited to see where the NJCAAE can and will go. If we can keep up with the influx of student-athletes and schools wanting to join is going to be awesome. I love what we are doing because it lends for so much growth and prosperity for our students across the country,” said Arnold, “I introduced my daughter to Resident Evil and now she has completed more of the series than I have. I do not own a gaming console in my house, because after my daughter started gaming, she has taken over it and is now in college with it.”
Make sure to check out the JCC Esports team: