Aiming toward the mark
The Liberty University paintball team has its sights set on a National Championship. Currently at 4-0, the Flames are in prime position to shoot their way past all competitors and attain the biggest prize.
Liberty has finished in fourth place in each of the last two years but coach Todd Hoglund believes that this year is Liberty’s year to win it all.
“We expect to win the national title this year,” Hoglund said.
In order to meet these high expectations and finally make that jump from fourth to first, Liberty will need to overcome reigning national champion and conference foe, the University of Tennessee.
One ingredient that this year’s squad has that teams in past years have not is depth.
“Last year, the biggest weakness was depth. We didn’t have the players who were comfortable playing in different situations,” Hoglund said. “The team has a lot more depth this year than in previous years, which gives me more options.”
Hoglund is really looking for team captain Brian Davidson to step up and be a leader to the team. Hoglund is hoping for more leaders as well and said anyone can be a leader on his team as long as they have a good attitude.
“The biggest thing is their attitude on and off the field,” Hoglund said. “If they have their head on straight and the end goal in sight, then I look for them to lead. The world of paintball is a very secular world so our core guys need to step up and express their faith.”
There are two divisions in the National Collegiate Paintball Association (NCPA), Class A and Class AA. Class A is the top division and is the division in which teams compete in a regular season, which culminates in Lakeland, Fla. with the national championships.
Class AA teams compete in tournaments for their season. Liberty’s Class AA team is currently ranked seventh in the NCPA while the Class A team is currently the only team in the NCPA with a 4-0 record on the season that started in September and runs through March.
Class A matches consist of two 10-minute halves with five players on the field for each team and a flag set up in the middle of the field. When a player is hit with a paintball and it splatters, the player who has been hit must leave the field. If the paintball does not break then the hit does not count and the player can continue to play. Teams earn points by grabbing the center flag and hanging it on the opposite end of the field without getting shot.
Liberty competes in the Southeast Conference along with the University of Tennessee and Kennesaw State University.
The next two matches are both scheduled for March 31 against Tennessee and Kennesaw State. The national championships are in Lakeland, Fla. and are scheduled for April 13-15.