Temple’s paintball club is fueled by passion, adrenaline and fruit snacks.
“I feed [members] fruit snacks,” said Ben Larason, a senior psychology major and coach of the Temple paintball team. “I got it from running. It’s a sugar boost and you don’t get cramps. It works.”
Larason, 34, has been playing paintball since he was in high school and began competing in tournaments two years later in 1998.
For four years, Larason played for Paintball Sports Promotion, which he said “Is as far up as you can go in the paintball world.”
Joe Coady is the president of the club and said he has been paintballing since fifth grade. This is both Larason’s and Coady’s third year on the team, but experience isn’t necessary to join the club, they said.
“We have two sides of the club,” Coady said. “Our main focus is the tournament, but we also have a recreational side where we’ll set up an event and have people come play.”
Throughout the year, the National Collegiate Paintball Association hosts three events in which collegiate teams plays three or four matches.
“Basically the format we play is that there are two 10-minute halves,” Coady said. “You score as many points in a half, or the game, as you can. There is a center flag and five guys on each team.”
The point of the game is to transfer the flag from the center of the field to the enemy’s box, and you don’t have to eliminate all players to get to the flag, Coady said. Every flag hung in the enemy’s box is worth one point.
“The paintballs shoot out fast from the gun, but you get used to it,” Coady said as he showed off a large welt that covered the knuckles on his left hand. “It’s like a sting.”
Larason compared the hit of the paintball to a snap of a rubber band.
“It depends on how close you get shot, but most of the time it doesn’t really hurt,” Larason said.
The paintball club has existed since the 2005-06 season. The team is a Class A team in the NCPA, which Coady said is equivalent to being Division I in the NCAA. The Owls placed third in the 2014 season.
The team practices at Top Gun Paintball, in Cream Ridge, New Jersey, about an hour from Main Campus.
The university does not fund the group and players must pay for all equipment and accommodations, like jerseys, travel, hotels and the paintball guns.
Coady said paintball equipment isn’t cheap. Basic equipment includes a gun, an air tank, which pushes the paintballs forward through the gun, a hopper, which feeds the paintballs into the gun, and a mask, which Coady said is most important. Paintball guns alone can cost anything between $150-2,000.
Larason has high hopes for this season.
“I want a national championship,” the senior said proudly.
Even though he is planning on graduating at the end of the fall semester, Larason said he plans to participate in the club until the end of the school year and plans to come back next year as a coach.
Coady feels similarly.
“I’d love to keep playing after I graduate,” Coady said. “It really all depends if I have enough money to keep playing or have the time to keep playing. It’s a time commitment between practices and tournaments.”
“Most of the time it’s coming out of your pocket unless you’re a pro player,” Larason said.
Michael Abramowitz is a 2010 information science and technology alumnus and is a founder of paintball club.
“The process to start with the NCAA was simple, all we really needed to do was get five guys who could verify that they were full time students to play in tournaments,” Abramowitz said. “One of the tougher aspects was establishing ourselves correctly with the university as a campus recreation sport club. For the first few years we were a student organization under student activities.”
Now that the team is entering its eighth season, Abramowitz reflects on the club’s first season, when players earned just a 55th-place ranking in Class AA.
“This is a great moment for the group, but there are many things that go unnoticed throughout the club that personally make me even more proud as a founder,” Abramowitz said. “The way the members of the team grow personally within this club is what really makes me smile.”
Larason said members the university’s paintball team see themselves as part of an “amazing dysfunctional family.”
“Everybody individually has their good days and bad days,” Larason added.
Abramowitz believes the skills members of paintball club learn will benefit them later in life. “I know personally I wouldn’t be where I am today without the experiences and lessons I learned from my time with the Temple University Paintball Club.”
Temple’s paintball team played its first event of the 2015 season on Oct. 26. The squad defeated Connecticut and Northwestern, but fell to West Point.
Jane Babian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org