Paintball club wins inaugural tournament
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 22:09
A new USU Paintball Club? Check. A new tournament victory? Check. New club members? They’re hunting for more.
The Utah State paintball club reopened last spring and is already gunning down the competition.
“I knew there were people that played here and I wanted to start the club to basically find people that played tournament style,” club founder and president Tim Burgess said.
While tournament style may not be the main type of play, Burgess began finding people and started assembling his arsenal following Day on the Quad last spring.
“Basically by doing that and posting it on the events calendar, I met Kyle, we met Derek, Spencer, some players that came out,” he said. “From there we formed and we’re like ‘hey, we all play, we’re pretty good,’ we went down and practiced a couple times, we formed the team, and we went down and played three man and we took first in our first event.”
Kyle Draper said the club is now a key part of his collegiate experience.
“Shooting other people is one of the biggest stress relievers I have,” he said.
The team was victorious at the Monstah Paintball 3-Man Tournament Series in Ogden this past month, defeating their final opponent on a sudden-death point to take the tournament championship.
“It’s kind of that game feeling you get when you’re playing video games, but you’re moving, being active,” said Spencer Hickenlooper, a team member. “You get to shoot someone, watching that paintball come out of your gun, go down the line and actually nail the person, it’s just like a little moral victory inside.”
Victory in the tournament games is achieved by hanging the flag at the center of the field in the other team’s deadbox on the far side, Burgess said.
“It is very fast paced and can get tiring,” he said. “It is often easiest to score after you have eliminated the entire other team.”
The club was seeded first after the preliminary rounds and received a bye to the final round. After winning the flag twice in a best-of-five series, Utah State was unable to clinch the final point in the next two contests and had to enter a one-on-one, sudden-death point for the championship.
Burgess was elected by his team to play the point.
“As soon as the game buzzer went off to signal go, I blitzed straight up the field, gun a-blazing,” he said. “This exposed my opponent to me and I ended up hitting him about four or five times.”
After the refs declared his opponent out, Burgess grabbed the flag and ran it in for the victory.
“The final match was really intense,” Draper said. “Winning it after almost losing our lead made it that much sweeter. And for a team to take first after only playing together twice is a pretty good achievement in my book.”
Draper was part of the tournament team and said along with winning, one of the club’s main goals is to improve the exposure of paintball to the Cache Valley community.
“I think that’s the biggest thing we want from the club is just get the exposure out in Cache Valley, to help the sport grow up here,” Draper said. “If you’ve never played that’s no big deal, we’re welcome to any style and any experience level.”
The club is gaining members from a diverse group, including exchange students from Armenia and the Dominican Republic.
“There’s one guy here that’s from the Dominican Republic, and he played on a tournament team down in the D.R., so we want to get him out to play with us,” Burgess said.
The email list has around 200 interested students, and the team holds practices sporadically. The club plays at a field near Smithfield where they set up inflatable bunkers, giant wooden spools and other objects to hide and shoot behind. Draper said there were about 10 players at Saturday’s practice.
“Tim knows a guy that has some land out in Smithfield; we’re able to set up a pretty decent field that we can play on, and then up the canyon there’s a place you can play,” Draper said. “Eventually we want to get to a point where we can sponsor and get people together, just like ‘hey we’re going up the canyon to play on this date and this time, we’re just going to go up and shoot each other.’”
The club benefits from the connections that long-time players such as Draper have with paintball stores. One such connection, Chris Longfellow, owns Paintball Addicts in Salt Lake City and helps the club with necessary materials.
“We get paint from him, we borrow his bunkers,” Burgess said. “He’s always willing to extend his hand out to help.”
Hickenlooper said the normal excuses on why students won’t come out don’t work, and said the club welcomes all who want to come out.
“A lot of people don’t want to come out because they say it hurts,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt. My wife plays and she loves it.”
Any interested students are invited to like the group on Facebook or contact one of the club members. Materials, such as gun rentals and paintballs, are available for a minimal fee at the practices.