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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Splatter sport

 
 

Bunkers, projectile weapons and a kill or be-killed mentality to a majority of Texas A&M students, all words of war. But for the thirty members of the A&M paintball club these words are simply part of their civilian routine.
According to club vice president and senior interdisciplinary studies major Robin Operhall, paintball as a sport has an extremely competitive edge and goes beyond its initial use as a recreational activity.
Simply put, we dont play in the woods, Operhall said. This is a very competitive, very athletic sport. Its very fast, very intense. Thats why we all play it, for the adrenaline rush.
Founded in 1996 for players of any skill level to convene and play recreationally, A&M paintball has evolved into the largest collegiate paintball organization in the country. Gaining the status of an official Texas A&M rec sport three years ago, paintball has continued to expand its membership and received the title of A&Ms Club Sport of the Year in 2012.
The program has been established for a long time, club secretary and senior biomedical sciences major J.D. Woody said. Right now, A&M has the biggest program in the nation for paintball. We sent five teams to one tournament, and thats unheard of.
With 30 active members, the Aggies are consistently competitive on the national level, finishing in the Top 5 over the past three seasons. In 2009, A&M even closed the season as the runner-up for the national championship.
Currently, the club sport stands as second in the National Collegiate Paintball Association rankings and will travel to Lakeland, Fla. for the national championship tournament, which will run from April 19-21.
For club president and junior kinesiology major Michael Forgione, the sport has morphed into a game built on strategy and preparation, an ideal stressed during the teams weekly practices.
Weve been preparing a lot for nationals a lot of drills, a lot of scenarios, Forgione said. The sport has evolved to where everyone needs to be athletic, everyone needs to be fit and have endurance. There are players of all different skill sets in college, ranging from beginner to professional.
Practices run similarly to those implemented in a football or basketball program, focusing on drills and building certain skills necessary for success on the paintball field. Leaders on the team pester younger players with questions during shooting sessions, forcing them to evolve better communications skills amidst the chaos of a paintball match.
On non-tournament weekends, the team scrimmages at a self-constructed paintball facility off-campus. According to club treasurer and senior chemical engineering major Chris Spletter, the field cut costs while also giving the team a way to demonstrate the nature of competitive paintball.
This year, we built our own field a little ways off campus; its a lot cheaper and a lot more accessible, Spletter said. A lot of people dont know what competitive paintball is. They think its just a bunch of guys going out in the woods and shooting each other. Its not.
For Woody, the paintball course represents a key component and advantage for A&M, considering its one of just a few in the nation.
I think theres only one, maybe two, other programs in the country that practice on their own field thats self-maintained by the team, Woody said. Thats been our pride and joy this past year.

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