Paintball team aims to make history

 

April 9, 2014

By Jacqueline Schaefer

 

It’s been on campus since 1999. It won the national championship in 2009. Now in its 15th year on campus, the UW-Whitewater Paintball Club looks to make UW-W proud on April 10 as the team heads to Florida for another national competition.

Obluck
Obluck

While not expecting to bring home a title, freshman Brandon Obluck, the sponsorship and media coordinator, is hopeful they will succeed.

“I think we’ll do pretty well,” Obluck said. “I’m hoping our line will get into the top 30, maybe the top 25 teams.”

Junior Travis Mattice, the vice president, said he also is confident.

“We’re only sending one line this year,” Mattice said. “We have some freshman and some less-experienced players, but we’re hoping to make it at least until Sunday.”

The team is young and hasn’t been playing together for long, which Obluck said can hinder a team’s success. However, Obluck said they have lots of talent.

“We have a lot of new freshmen who have been playing for a while,” Obluck said. “We have a lot of new guys who are really passionate about it.”

UW-W’s team belongs to the National Collegiate Paintball Association and is part of the Midwest North conference.

The conference contains all the teams from Wisconsin, along with several from the surrounding area, such as Iowa State University and Illinois State University.

So far this academic year, the team has competed in five Midwest North tournaments and is currently top in the conference.

The UW-W paintball team will typically send two lines to each competition. A line consists of six or seven players, but only five can be on the field at once. The two lines, the black and purple lines, are structured like an A and B line, with the black line as the A line.

“Most of our black line next year will be gone, either graduated or moving on to other schools or things, so our purple line is going to move up to our black line,” Obluck said. “I feel like we’re ready to [move up]. Our purple line is doing really well.”

The club tries to practice as often as possible, but Obluck said logistics can make it difficult to pull everyone together. 

“It’s hard to coordinate when we can fit practices in because a lot of the guys on our team are still enrolled at Whitewater but taking graduate classes at Madison and Milwaukee,” Obluck said. “It’s hard to coordinate when they can come in.”

The team’s home field is at H2 Paintball in McHenry Ill., which is approximately one hour away from Whitewater. The team is sponsored by H2 and Empire Paintball, a company based in New Jersey.

Obluck said sponsers are necessary because the sport is expensive. A case of paintballs can cost $50 to $60. Each case contains 2,000 balls, which is enough for approximately one player per practice. H2 lowers the cost for the team to practice and sells cases of paintballs to the team for $35 per case.

Empire Paintball gives the team dealership discounts. Obluck said the team pays a flat rate on equipment in exchange for using Empire’s products during tournaments and promoting their label.

While equipment is a large cost, participating in tournaments also is a concern to the team. A regular tournament costs $100 to $150 per player, and the national tournament costs $300 per player.

In order to meet its financial needs, the paintball team is the highest-funded club team on campus. It receives about $1200 per semester. Obluck said this is not enough money to meet costs, and the team fundraises and asks businesses for aid to make up the difference.

Other than logistic and financial problems, the team also faces challenges on where to store its equipment.

While guns, including paintball guns, are banned on campus, the team has been in contact with UW-W Police Services Officer Steve Hannecamp and has been granted team members permission to keep equipment in their rooms.

“He sees our side,” Obluck said. “We’re a team, and we need to practice and travel. So the police kind of let it slide, as long as we’re not waving it around in the hallways.”

Obluck said one important aspect of a paintball team is communication.

“If you’re really good friends with the people you’re on the field with, it’s a lot easier to communicate in a game,” Obluck said. “Team bonding really helps, and our communication has really grown.”

Mattice also said communication and bonding are important parts of the team.

“I love the friendships you build,” Mattice said.  “You’re active with these people so much during the school year that you really grow friendships.”

The team meets every at 9 p.m. every Wednesday in the UC Room 68b. Those looking to become involved can attend a meeting or contact Obluck at [email protected]

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