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Player Spotlight - Hayley Topping

Mia White

Mar 27, 2024

Hayley Topping (she/her), 19, is a freshman at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) studying human services, with the hopes of going into the social work field. 

“I have always felt this was my calling, as I’ve been very fond of helping those who don’t know how or can’t help themselves. Unfortunately, I am not exactly sure what specific path in the social work field I will find myself in, but I am excited to see where it takes me,” said Topping, “After I finish my two years at Finger Lakes I plan to go to Keuka college to major in Social Work. I have also debated on coming back to FLCC to get a second degree in Psychology but that is to be discussed more.”

Topping expresses a genuine fondness for FLCC, citing its smaller and more intimate setting. She finds it to be an ideal environment for gradually acclimating to college life and managing academic responsibilities. Additionally, she highlights the availability of various support services for students in need. FLCC boasts a diverse array of clubs, ranging from academic-focused to recreational pursuits like Dungeons & Dragons and fencing.

Passionate about photography, cosplay, anime, and gaming, Topping actively participates in the FLCC esports team, particularly in Overwatch, where she fulfills a supportive role. Recognized as a co-captain, she eagerly anticipates becoming captain next semester. Her goal is to introduce new initiatives to the team and further develop her leadership skills in guiding her teammates.

“I got involved with esports because I have always had a love for competitive games. I played volleyball in high school but due to health issues I was not able to continue into college, which I was bummed about but at the end of the day I am very happy I chose the esports route. The community within FLCC for esports is so kind, helpful, and accepting. It truly is an amazing option for those who have a love for video games,” said Topping, “Being a part of a team, at first, was definitely a struggle for me. It is an entirely new experience going from playing with random people casually on a game to being able to discuss plays, comps, feelings, and opinions with people on a competitive team. I have really enjoyed the opportunity I’ve been given on the Overwatch team. Being able to build bonds and friendships with people on the team has been very fun. It doesn’t feel so much like a team as rather a group of friends who love to play the same game and get better together.”

Topping persists in honing her skills through diligent practice on custom maps. She experiments with heroes outside her usual repertoire to ensure familiarity with various roles that may be required for team compositions they aim to execute. Although she doesn't closely follow professional play, she regularly reviews her own statistics to identify areas for improvement and devises strategies to enhance her performance. Additionally, she remains updated on the meta by evaluating the effectiveness of characters across the board, distinguishing between those that excel and those that fall short.

How do you prepare for NJCAAE championships?

“I’ve only been on the Overwatch team for one round of playoffs. We managed to finish in the Top 8 in the Fall of 2023. Preparing for playoffs was intimidating, I’ve never been a part of such a large-scale program that faces so many other colleges. So of course scouting out the other teams, seeing ranks, comps they run, characters they are comfortable with, and trying to prepare strategies accordingly was a major thing for us. We also spent more time focusing on honing in on what we were good at and improving on our own characters and comps,” said Topping, “I appreciate the NJCAAE for giving the opportunity to several schools to compete against one another. The FLCC team specifically focuses on a community structure within the competitions and the NJCAAE is the reason why our program is happening, and I’m very grateful for that.”

What is it like being a woman in esports?

“There are several stereotypes about esports/gamers that I am bothered with. Primarily the one where gamers are portrayed as conventionally unattractive, heavier set, slothful, unmotivated teens/young adults who spend all of their time gaming and nothing else. This is a crude view of gamers. Video games are just another hobby for people. I don’t see where the stereotype comes about and personally, the idea that people will chalk a group of individuals into one box is sickening. Everyone is their own person, with their own likes and dislikes. I also do not appreciate when esports gets looked down upon in the sense of athletics, while yes, there may not be much physical movement involved with esports, that does not diminish the team aspect of the scene. The collaboration, the determination, and the want to win and improve just like every other sport has,” said Topping, “Being a woman in esports isn’t much different than being a man in esports. While I will admit, that we tend to be a minority, we are still members of a team who are there for the exact same reasons that men are. To improve and to win. Being a woman does not mean you are automatically worse at a game than men in fact I believe because of the stigma towards women in games, while yes it can be deterring, I think it gives us a drive that men don’t have. I butt heads with my male teammates all the time, as jokes yes, but there’s a sense of wanting to perform and prove that the stereotypes aren’t correct.”

When asked for advice for young gamers, Topping stressed the importance of taking breaks from the screen when necessary to maintain peace of mind. "To my fellow female gamers, both young and old, I want to remind you that you are enough. While the gaming community can sometimes be toxic, attempting to diminish your love for video games, do not allow it to do so. Remember, it's just pixels on a screen and strangers on the other end. They don't know you, but you know yourself," said Topping.

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