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Rutgers Paintball Team prepares for national contest

<p>Courtesy of Brian Thompson | The Rutgers Paintball Team will soon compete in the College Paintball National Championships, hosted by the National Colegiate Paintball Association in Florida this weekend. The team participates in a five-on-five “capture-the-flag” contests during the event.</p>

Courtesy of Brian Thompson | The Rutgers Paintball Team will soon compete in the College Paintball National Championships, hosted by the National Colegiate Paintball Association in Florida this weekend. The team participates in a five-on-five “capture-the-flag” contests during the event.

Painting can be fun, but shooting paintballs can be exhilarating.

The Rutgers Paintball Team, a sports club, has students compete in paintball competitions along the East Coast as part of the National Collegiate Paintball Association, said Brian Thompson, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and president of the paintball team.

Teams of five compete in a single elimination-style bracket. If you get shot once with a paintball you are out, Thompson said.

“It’s basically a 'Capture the Flag' scenario,” Thompson said. “There’s a flag that hangs in the center of the field. You need to eliminate the five players in the other side of the field and then go hang the flag on their side.” 

Winning a round earns the team a point. The first team to score two points and moves on in the bracket.

The team is ranked in Class AA, which provides provides more flexibility and generally caters to newer teams than Class A, its higher-level counterpart, Thompson said. 

The team competes in a number of tournaments per year, in addition to recreational side competitions that give newer players a chance to improve, Thompson said. 

The largest competition they attend is the College Paintball National Championships, held annually by the NCPA, which takes place in Kissimmee, Florida, this upcoming weekend.

Anybody can join, and the team is always looking for new players. They practice on local fields during weekends, he said.

The team pays for their own equipment, Thompson said. The equipment can be expensive and can make students hesitant about joining. Players also pay to go to competitions. 

He said the team wants to get a recreational team going where students can rent equipment for a day and just have fun.

“It’s roughly $1,000 to $1,500 worth of stuff,” Thompson said. “You got a regular high-pressure compressed air tank. You got a loader which actually feeds the balls into the tank. And just pants, pads and other regular equipment.”

Thompson said he enjoys paintballing because it is a fast-paced, energetic environment that requires a lot of strategy and teamwork to succeed.

The paintball team is something most people do not understand, said Nolan Swiderski Soto, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior and vice president of the paintball team.

“When people say paintball, they don’t think of the style of play that we play,” Soto said. “The style that we play is a lot more fast paced (and) team oriented. It’s such a split-second sport.”

Soto, who is now in his second year with the team, said this team is very diverse, and all their personalities could not be any more different. They put aside their differences once they are competing and work together in the best possible way.

“I absolutely enjoy the adrenaline,” Soto said. “I love waiting at the start box -- Three, two, one, you hear that horn go off, and you know you better get to your bunker.”

Tyler Egrie, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, has played paintball ever since he was young. He said the friendship the team has created and the experience of being out there on the field are what he loves about this team. He hopes to win their upcoming national competition.

“In the future, hopefully we get a point where we get to Class A, if possible. Or if not, we go through Class AA and do the best we can with the people that we have,” Egrie said.

Mason Cueto, a School of Arts and Scienes junior who is also new to the sport, said his teammates have been helping him improve ever since he joined.

“Aside from the fact you make a lot of friends ... you learn a lot about the sport,” Cueto said. “A lot of these guys have a lot more experience than me, so for me, it’s all about the learning experience.”

Nicholas Colazzo, a Robert Wood Johnson Medical School second-year student who has been on the team since his first year at Rutgers, said one of the biggest positives of being on the team is being with his teammates.

“We’ve been all up and down the east coast at tournaments,” Colazzo said. “We just spend a lot of time together having a lot of fun. Since joining the team I feel like I’ve grown tremendously as a player.”

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article identified Nolan Swiderski Soto is Dillon Swiderski Soto.

Christopher Bohorquez is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @c_bo_sauce.

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