While some might think of paintball as merely a hobby, one group on campus has assembled a team around a love of the sport.
What started as just a few students meeting at paintball fields, has blossomed into something much more, according to Matthew Park, manufacturing engineering senior, and Jackson Hively, political science sophomore.
“We haven’t been participating in tournaments until this year,” Park said. “Last year it was just me and Jackson, and now, we have been able to grow and participate in tournaments. Before this year, we were really just introducing the game to people, and now our goal is (to compete in the National Collegiate Paintball Association’s championship.)”
The two had low expectations for the team initially, but their humble beginnings have helped them this season.
“Since there isn’t a lot of recruiting compared to the bigger sports at a college, the club teams are usually just for the people that love the game of paintball and learning,” Park said.
Hively wanted to increase the number of participants and that meant making the club less exclusive.
“I have opened the club to new players this semester, which has helped us a lot in growing our brand,” Hively said. “I am confident in everyone we have on our team right now.”
The team feels it is in the right direction despite inexperience.
“We are still very young, and we have been middle of the pack from the get-go,” Adam Alejandro, graduate student, said. “We haven’t come out and walked away with nothing to show for it. We have gained a lot of respect from a lot of other lines, and anything less than top three finishes is (an) insult to our team.”
Despite its newness, the team does have some older players like Alejandro. He began playing paintball as an undergraduate student at Cornell University, making him the most experienced on the team.
“I have been playing competitive for six years now,” Alejandro said. “When I was an undergrad at Cornell University, I helped the team there, which is still the only Ivy League team.”
Alejandro has been to Nationals before, but not with Texas State.
“I have been blessed to go to Nationals with my old team, and I want to take Texas State there,” Alejandro said.
Paintball is one of the most expensive activities a college student can take part in. But, according to the team, it is definitely worth it.
“Tournaments cost about $500, which gives us about seven paintball cases,” Hively said. “You have to account for hotel, gas and food. Split between the team, it comes to about $150 a person per tournament. It is expensive, but it is worth it.”
Hively is hoping the university will be able to fund the paintball team.
“Hopefully the school looks into funding us as a club,” Hively said. “Because the team gets the opportunity to compete with the bigger name schools that Texas State might not always get to play in other sports.”
The team has qualified and is preparing for Nationals April 20, in Kissimmee, Florida, with a few more tournaments before then.
“Our main goal this next tournament is to be a well-oiled machine,” Hively said. “We are going to have some players taking on a coaching role to help us. We are in this to win it.”