Nighthawk Finds Her Community in NOVA’s Esports Program 

October 27, 2023

Maddie Davidson is a major techie. She stepped into the tech world at about 5 years old and never left. Her love for technology took off when she started playing video games with her father, creating a strong bond between them that still exists today. Even though her dad introduced her to the tech world, she is the tech wiz of her family. Maddie's passion goes beyond playing video games; she aspires to create them!


Maddie is thankful that NOVA's Esports program gave her the chance to pursue her passion. Although she was hired as a team manager to help students in the program, she wanted to be a player as well. Earlier this year, Maddie assisted in the launch of NOVA's first all-women's Esports team. After trying out for the team, she became a player and the captain! 

This semester Maddie earned a spot on NOVA Nighthawks Gold, NOVA's Esports junior varsity team. She is seen as a role model and has grown into a leader. 

Learn more about Maddie's Esports journey: 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background. 
Growing up, I was a very shy kid. I kept to myself and played video games as an outlet. My entire life, it’s only been me and my father. So I have always had this strong urge to excel in everything I do to make him proud and to repay him for everything he has done for me. 

I’ve always dreamed of working on my own gaming project. But as I grew older, I realized the tech field was more than just video games. I could work as a coder for large corporations and earn enough money to provide a better life for my family in ways we could never imagine. I have been diligently practicing different coding languages such as Python, CSS and Java to increase my coding experience. 

I am actively working on mastering Python since many companies use it. Also, I am searching for a summer internship to gain real-world experience and improve my odds of future employment. 

What brought you to NOVA? 
I started in NOVA's Esports program while still attending John Champe High School in Loudoun County. Since I was dual enrolled at NOVA for an English class, I was allowed to join NOVA's clubs. It was out of the blue that I joined NOVA's Esports program. It was one of the best decisions I ever made! 

When John O'Neil, one of the head coaches, posted a job opportunity for someone to assist with the program, I applied. In my job application, I wrote, "I have no experience, but I want a foot in." I got the position, and it turned out to be a great opportunity that opened doors to many great people and experiences. 

How has NOVA’s Esports program impacted you? 
Coach John O'Neil and the Esports community have had a major impact on my life. Without them, I would still be stuck in my low-paying job at Wendy's and doing school alone, without many close friends. I have found a great community and I have some good friends who are transferring to Virginia Tech (VT) along with me. It's just incredible how this all happened. It feels awesome, and my hard work throughout my life is paying off. 

Tell us about your experience at NOVA, like friends you’ve met.  
What's special about NOVA Esports is that we all have this bond together. We work hard to make sure the environment is friendly and welcoming to everyone. That’s why we host events such as our workshops, where we invite everyone in the Esports program to come out and socialize and play. It’s fun, and it's so special how our Esports program cares so much about team bonding among players. 

Coach O'Neil and I worked together to make the all-women's Valorant Violet team a reality. We have made it a safe space for women in Esports because I know a lot of women are intimidated to join, just like I was before I joined. It’s a pretty male-dominated area. So far, it's been a success. I always make sure to invite the women's team to every event possible, and I intend to rejoin Violet for my final semester at NOVA in the spring. 

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA? 
My advice would be to just put yourself out there. You don't know what you will get back! Don't be afraid to go to a club meeting. Don't be afraid to say "hi" to the person standing next to you in line. Never be afraid to go after an opportunity. If you let it get away, you will miss out. If I had not put myself out there and applied for the job with the Esports program, I would not be where I am today! 

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring? 
I’m transferring to Virginia Tech next fall for computer science through the VCCS guaranteed admissions program. My goal is to become a computer science engineer. Currently, I am seeking a job in the government to work in a tech position with a specific focus on the criminal justice field. Still, I will be keeping an eye out for any game development positions as well so I can keep my hobbies alive. 

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