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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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"One of UB's Most Accomplished, Under-recognized Teams"

Paintball Club boasts an undefeated season

Paintball is a contact sport, but many students have not had contact with the UB Paintball club. Still, the club aspires to one day be an official school team.

Mayhem, the UB Paintball club, has gone undefeated in every tournament in which it has participated this year. Two tournaments ago, it was untouchable; it beat the best Paintball Sports Promotions (PSP) team in the region, Factory Black, 7 – 3. The team's next stop is nationals, held in Florida in approximately two weeks, which brings together over 150 college teams from around the nation.

"UB Paintball has been in the top four or five every event we've played since freshman year and we've won our last two tournaments decisively," said Joe Barrett, a junior communication major and a player and coach of the UB Paintball club with approximately a decade of paintball experience. "If we win nationals in two weeks, we'd have pretty much the best semester of UB wins."

Mayhem won its last tournament, the Winter Indoor Paintball Series held in Syracuse, N.Y. at the Headrush facility. Held over a three-month period, the team reigned supreme against teams from around the country, many of which play nationally and semi-professionally and are not necessarily affiliated with any university.

"It's like a pre-league for the summer paintball league at Headrush in Syracuse that attracts something like 30 teams from all over the Northeast," said George Kalkowsky, a junior civil engineering major and president of the UB Paintball club with 11 years of experience playing paintball. "It's pretty big and it attracts really good paintball players. This is just a smaller, more condensed version of that."

The prize for first place was 80 cases of paintballs, which cost about $40 each. At 2,000 paintballs per case, a win of 160,000 paintballs amounting to about $3,200 is exceptional for a competition like this. Usually prizes are around $1,500 or less or include gear packages. However, for larger or PSP events, a prize may be around $10,000. A professional tournament first-place win could garner $40,000 or a sponsorship, among other prizes, according to Barrett.

The team plays a version of paintball called X-ball, which features five players on each side playing up to five to seven points or until time runs out, whichever comes first. Once a player is shot, he or she is out of the play for that individual point. Once all the members of the opposing team have been picked off, the team can hang the flag on the opposing team's side, which amounts to one point. The clock stops, the teams reassemble, and play for the next point begins.

"It's basically a battle of attrition, whoever wants it more. There are not many other better feelings than wanting it more and proving it in a one-on-one or a tight game," Barrett said. "It's a game played with heart. There are a lot of times … that we're puking our asses off by the end of the point games because it's a hot day and we've played five, six points in a row. We play purely out of heart, whether you have any adrenaline or energy left at all."

During the school year, the team mainly plays in tournaments that are usually spread out along the East Coast. In the summer, there is a more traditional season, where a certain amount of games are played and teams are ranked; games occur once or twice a month.

The team must travel quite a bit, and many of the participants pay the majority of the costs out-of-pocket. They must practice in Batavia, Rochester or Syracuse, a drive UB Paintball makes three or four times a month.

"It's a little bit of a haul… We get a pretty significant amount of money from our Student Association sponsors, but it's definitely a sport that you have to be willing to travel and pay money to travel," Kalkowsky said. "It's a sport that takes a lot of commitment. In order to get involved, you really do need prior experience or a lot of money and time."

Additionally, there are many costs associated with equipment. Some of the best paintball guns can cost up to $2,000, but many participants play with a gun that costs around $300 to $500. The paintball gun also requires a carbon dioxide tank to propel the paintballs. A mask is required, and many players wear paintball pants, which feature padding on the front and ventilation on the sides. Many also wear cleats. However, one of the more persistent costs is constantly purchasing more paintballs.

"The more expensive [the paintballs] are, the more round and the more consistent the size is going to be, so it'll affect your accuracy," said Ryland Koopus, a senior in the School of Management and secretary of the club with four to five years of experience in the sport. "The shell will be thinner and more brittle so that from far away, instead of it bouncing off someone, it'll actually break."

Despite all the equipment, travel costs and bruises, the team has no plans of quitting any time soon.

"It's a contact sport. I think that's what really everybody enjoys. It's not so much like football where you're out there tackling people, but you're shooting people with 68-caliber paintballs that are travelling 200 miles per hour," Kalkowsky said. "So, when you see a paintball flying at your head, it's a rush that you can't get anywhere else. Kind of like standing in for a 90 mile-per-hour fastball."

Although the team is only a club at this point, it has hopes of becoming a recognized, fully-funded team at UB. Although this is more commonly seen in warmer states like California, Florida and Texas, where teams can play outdoors year-round, such teams are present at Pennsylvania State University and the Rochester Institute of Technology, among others.

"I'd like to make this UB's paintball sports team, not just only a club, not just a random group of guys from UB going out there and having fun, but actually competing in the collegiate league," Barrett said.

The team plans on starting to hold more local games for those interested in starting out in the sport. Additionally, newcomers are encouraged to visit Paintball of Tonawanda at 99 Wales Ave. or online at paintballoftonawandaLLC.com. For more information about the club, visit UBpaintball.com or email UBpaintball@gmail.com.

Email: features@ubspectrum.com


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