A splash of color
Liberty’s club paintball team remains undefeated
Liberty University’s paintball team won all three matches in the Mid-South Collegiate Conference Event No. 1, Oct. 22, keeping the team’s season record at undefeated.
The team faced Clemson, East Carolina and North Carolina State universities during the tournament, which was the first time the Flames have played at the class A level. Team member Ryan Esquirell was proud of the outcome.
“This weekend was our first class A event, which is the most difficult division in college paintball,” Esquirell said. “It really added to our morale and our momentum to keep working hard to keep up our record through the season.”
Esquirell said he fell in love with the sport after he first played paintball at a summer camp when he was nine. He has been a part of Liberty’s team for three years and hopes to continue to play even after graduating.
The paintball team is a competitive unit that plays tournament speedball, according to member Brian Natzke. Speedball is a team game played on a symmetrical field that is covered with artificial terrain, according to the Liberty paintball website. Natzke, current senior, has been on the team all of his four collegiate years and believes it is unlike any other sport offered at Liberty.
“It combines cardio, endurance, sprinting, diving, sliding and maintaining gun skills the entire time,” Natzke said.
The team practices every Sunday with drills to improve all aspects of the sport, and it runs through different game scenarios, according to Esquirell. It also meets for team workouts each Wednesday in addition to having individual workouts throughout the week.
“The team workouts consist mostly of conditioning and exercises focused on explosive movements which is an incredibly important part of paintball,” Esquirell said.
Liberty does not provide players with the equipment but does have sponsorships with some major brands that offer team discounts to the players, according to Esquirell.
“Liberty also provides a lot of funding which allows us to play an expensive sport like paintball at a very low cost,” Esquirell said.
The team participates in several competitions throughout the year, all leading up to the national championships that take place inFlorida in April.
One of the things that Natzke enjoys most about being on the team is getting to share his time and testimony with other members — especially younger ones.
“I love that I have the ability to work with the younger players and help them improve both on the field as players, as well as helping to train them into God-fearing men,” Natzke said.
Esquirell is grateful to be a part of the team because of the many relationships he has formed.
“A lot of these guys on the team are my best friends, and the relationships I’ve built with these guys will last my lifetime,” Esquirell said.
Being on the team has also shown Esquirell the opportunity there is to share Christ in the world of paintball. According to Esquirell, the atmosphere of most tournaments is dark, so he loves being a part of a team that brings in light.
“Seeing how God works through our team has really blown me away in the way that God uses not only Liberty paintball, but all the athletics of Liberty to impact the lives of other athletes that do not know Christ,” Esquirell said.
Whittaker is a feature reporter.