Rutgers paintball team fundraises for national competition
The Rutgers paintball team is trying to extend its season past the end of April with a trip to a national paintball competition.
Throughout this season the team played two different events and managed to take first place in its most recent match.
Anthony Rizzo, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, is president of the club and the captain of the paintball team. He said that as the season comes to a close, the team is trying to raise money for a national paintball event happening later in April.
The team was formed in 1994. Rizzo said it was created at the tail end of the sports popularity in the 1990s. The team began in the Class A division, the highest division in competitive paintball, and was moved to a lower division — Class AA — a couple of years ago.
Class AA division paintball games are designed like a game of capture the flag, Rizzo said. One central flag needs to be carried to one team’s side of the field in order for that team to win. If a player is hit by a paintball and the paintball explodes on contact, the player is out. If all of the players on a team have been hit, the team loses automatically. The team that wins best 2-out-of-3 rounds of paintball, wins the game.
Alongside Rutgers, other schools with paintball teams include Penn State, Drexel, Cornell and Clemson. Rizzo said that during last year's season, Rutgers played against teams from North Carolina, Texas A&M and the Air Force.
“I want to say there is probably over 60 different college paintball teams that are actively playing at the moment, (sic)” he said. “People are always organizing new teams at new colleges all the time.”
The Rutgers paintball team is split into two different lines, the official term for the team on the field during a game, Rizzo said. Since Rutgers has 15 members on its team, they are able to split themselves into two separate groups during a game.
One line is filled with more veteran paintball players, while the other has more newcomers on it, he said. Both teams played in the two competitions earlier in the season. In the team’s most recent game, the rookie line placed fourth.
Currently, Rizzo said the team is planning a T-shirt sale in order to raise money for the national event. Members are still working to pick a design for the final T-shirt, as well as making sure they meet the appropriate standards of what can be sold at the University. The team also has a GoFundMe page with a total goal of $1,900.
He said that over the past few years, paintball has become a much more niche sport and most people aware of it are those who actively follow the colleges that play it.
Now, most college paintball games can only be seen through live streams on Youtube, compared to the 1990s when paintball tournaments were shown on ESPN2, he said. Although he has noticed a decline in viewership, he still remains passionate about the sport and wants to turn others to the game as well.
“The thing that I hear a lot from people is ‘Oh, I didn’t know that Rutgers had a paintball team,’” Rizzo said. “In the past decade, the audience has gotten noticeably smaller, but the audience is still there.”
He said the team is always looking for new members and welcomes anyone who is interested in joining.
“I always get questions from people at the school, I always check my emails and I am more than happy to help anyone who wants to get involved with our team,” Rizzo said.