Paintball club gears up for competition in Florida
With his adrenaline pumping and heartbeat racing, social relations and policy junior Kristian Vanderwaerden shoots at his teammate. In any other circumstance, this would be wrong, but practice allows for it.
Plus, he said he thinks his teammates like it.
"I think everyone secretly wants to get shot," he said.
Vanderwaerden was referring to paintball. He said pain can be the name of the game when playing, but the adrenaline surpasses the negativity.
Vanderwaerden is in his third year playing with the MSU Paintball Club. The club is a part of the National Collegiate Paintball Association. Members are traveling to Florida for tournament play, which goes from April 21 to 23.
This year, the club has two teams participating in tournament play because the group had so many members. There will be two 10-minute halves with no mercy rules.
Vanderwaerden said the 20-member team used to be a small team of five when he first started the club.
"The fact that we have doubled our growth ever since I've started is pretty cool," he said. "Twenty sounds like a lot to us, but compared to a lot of groups it's a small number, so in a lot of ways it does feel like a small family."
In the tournament game there is a flag in the middle of the field a team member has to take to the end of the field. If the team member is clean and has no paint on them, the team gets a point. Vanderwaerden said practice and repetition are two important aspects.
President of the Paintball Club Nick Bravata started playing with the team two years ago, but he has been playing paintball since he was young.
"I have been playing since I turned 11, so paintball has always been really big for me," Bravata, a computer science senior, said. "I played a lot of sports in high school, and I was really competitive and coming to college and not playing football or some sport for a team and not having that competitiveness throughout that I have been so used to kind of felt like a void, and paintball definitely helped fill that for sure."
He said the competition in Florida will bring together teams from all over the country. The transition from the cold Michigan weather to the humid Florida weather will be a challenge for the team because they are not used to it, Bravata said.
"We go down and play in nationals against these teams that can play all year," Bravata said. "A lot of the Florida teams are really, really good because they can play every weekend as well as their school helps pay for a lot of their paint."
Mechanical engineering sophomore Kevin Harrington joined the team in fall 2016. He said he got into paintball last summer.
"It has definitely been different than what I thought, but it is still a lot of fun," Harrington said. "I don't regret ever starting."
Harrington said the team is preparing for the upcoming game play. He said to have the chance of winning, the team must focus on communication.
"I think people don't realize how much of a team sport it actually is," Harrington said. "One of the biggest parts of paintball is communication. If you're not communicating with your team members during play, then you just fall apart and your whole team suffers."