Lesser-known club sports shine

If you have been a student at Liberty University for any amount of time, you have probably spectated your share of hockey games and wrestling matches, but there are some lesser-known Club Sports you might consider watching (or joining).

One such sport is the Lady Flames synchronized skating team.

“It’s like synchronized swimming, but on ice with 16 girls skating as one,” sophomore Haley Gram said.

A new face on the team this year, Gram transferred in with eight years of figure skating experience. Her search for a university that suited her preferences led her to Liberty, where she could continue figure skating and take a shot at something a little different.

“I wanted to be challenged to take skating to a whole new level,” Gram said.

And Gram has risen to the occasion.

Synchronized skating is not all glitz-and-glamour like you might think. There is a weeklong choreography boot camp before the start of the school year—but the hard work, dedication to practice and physical exertion are year-round commitments.

“It’s very team-oriented and very athletic, and I don’t think a lot of people expect that,” Gram said. “Every day is a new challenge and you’ve got to work harder and harder. The pay-off is so worth the struggle.”

Follow the team on Instagram @libertyusynchro.

Another club sport that has been gaining speed is the men’s paintball team, which is headed to the sunshine state in April for the 2018 NCPA College Paintball National Championship.

According to team captain and senior Christian Campbell, teamwork and communication is what brought them here.

“Communication is the number one most important thing in paintball because if you don’t know where your opponent is on the field, you can’t shoot,” Campbell said. “Focusing on teamwork and communication, keeping up with how many people you’ve shot on the field, how many teammates you have left — that’s all really important to make plays. It’s like chess in real life.”

Like synchronized skating, competitive paintball is another sport that plays out a bit differently than expected.

“When people think of paintball, they think about sneaking around in camo in the woods,” senior and team captain Christian Campbell said. “But competitive paintball is a lot different. It’s very high-intensity. We’re shooting 10 paintballs a second with a thousand on our backs.”

Having been with the team since his freshman year, nationals is a bittersweet symphony for Campbell — his last competitive event with Liberty men’s paintball.

It is the friendships and camaraderie that he will miss the most, attributing much of his character as captain to the coaches and teammates who have walked with him in this five-year journey.

“Looking to the captains and those above me as a freshman, it always felt really good to get advice and be invested in,” Campbell said. “I really try to focus on helping the younger players on and off the field…athletically, mentally, spiritually, (because) when you grow in those areas outside of paintball, you grow as a player and a teammate in paintball as well. It sounds cliché, but always be humble and willing to take advice because you can always learn something no matter where you’re at,” Campbell said.

If all this sports talk has you interested in joining a Club Sport (or simply finding a schedule to decide which ones to watch next), visit the Club Sports webpage at liberty.edu/campusrec/clubsports.

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