Paintball succeeds at nationals
Most sports involve throwing balls, swinging bats or kicking across the field. But the athletes on Liberty University’s paintball teams are not into any of the conventional methods of athletics. These athletes live for slinging paint and plotting strategy to score the coveted point.
Liberty’s paintball teams are divided into two sections, Class-A and Class-AA. Both competed in the national competition April 15-17 in Lakeland, Fla. The Class-A team finished in fourth place, finishing behind the University of Connecticut, Cal State-Long Beach and the University of Tennessee.
“Our Class A guys played so well and truly represent Liberty and Christ the best way they could,” Hoglund said. “They kept their heads up and shared God’s love with all those around.”
The Class-AA teams finished 40th and 44th out of 53 teams.
Both teams practice and compete all year in preparation for the national competition. The teams practice together two times a week and worked especially hard in the weeks leading up to nationals.
“We seriously just grind it out every practice, with long practices,” sophomore Class-A player Nick Tosi said. We do a lot of cardio and running. We do a lot of drills and talk about it. We look at the layout and study it.”
Class-A captain Brian Davidson said that the teams work on strategy, game plans, individual skills and team skills, as well as scrimmages during the Sunday practice. Tuesday’s practice is very conditioning-based to allow the most agility possible.
Having the teams practice together is something that head coach Todd Hoglund and his coaching staff put together to strengthen camaraderie between the teams. The athletes enjoy the collaboration because of the support.
“Normally when you play paintball, there’s cockiness and arrogance,” junior Class-AA player Jacob Goings said. “But with Liberty, the players are really strong, but when you play them and they destroy you, they let you know ‘Hey, you could work on this,’ or, ‘You could do this better.’ (Class-A) doesn’t think of themselves as better than (Class-AA), it’s a very unified team.”
With two teams and players on all different levels, Liberty is able to attract a myriad of players to its program.
“The program itself has developed so that we’re attracting developed players that look at Liberty’s paintball program and say, ‘I want to go to Liberty because of paintball,’” Hoglund said. “We’re also able to develop inexperienced players because of the number of developed players we have. They are able to learn from each other, as well as the coaching staff.”
The camaraderie between the teams have fostered good, clean competition, as well as lasting relationships between the athletes and coaches.
“I have good guys around me. They are some of my best friends and I wouldn’t trust anyone else,” Tosi said. “You develop all these bonds with these guys, and even going out to eat or hanging out a each other’s house, those are the best moments. I would even trade a first place at nationals to keep these guys as friends.”
Even though winning is always a large goal of Liberty paintball, living out the will of God and spreading the word is important to the program.
“Paintball is such a lost sport, as far as Christianity goes,” Davidson said. “Everyone goes there to party. They play paintball and go home and get drunk and that’s what its all about, just a fun time. So we want to show an example for Christ to show them what he’s all about.”
Being able to spread the love of God through playing paintball, as well as promoting Liberty, is something that the team loves to do. Having a more important reason to play besides winning keeps the team motivated.
“I told my guys just to let their light shine,” Hoglund said. “And if that light is in our fantastic paintball ability, then we’ll let that shine, and peoplez wonder where this little Christian school from Virginia came from.”
Liberty’s paintball teams will be beginning competition next semester, with a complete schedule throughout the fall and spring semesters. All paintball events can be found on the Club Sports website, as well as on Facebook.
Very nice article!
It was dynamic to watch Liberty’s paintball team at the Nationals and congratulations on winning fourth, the team that got first you played them all the time back and forth in your conference, and you have beat them and they have beat you in the regular season, so Liberty’s team could of very well been won first, this time it was Tennessee’s turn. This Liberty team that is representing God first and showing their teamwork, compassion, and winning fighting spirit on the field representing how they can handle any situation and move on showing their love for Christ and their bond of friendship as a team. I would like to see Liberty University offer any Seniors on this team this next year free tuition, this will be an incentive for others to get in to Paintball and stay with it through the end of their senior year.
I was actually at Nationals that year and remember seeing your team play. It seemed like everyone had way more fun playing back then..
omg! can’t imagine how fast time pass….. I really love it!