North Texas Daily

UNT paintball team hits the ground running with new team, players

UNT paintball team hits the ground running with new team, players

UNT paintball team hits the ground running with new team, players
September 26
11:00 2018

Early in the morning, members of the UNT paintball team start practice. By the end, every player walks out covered in dirt and splotches of neon color.

Founded in 2003, the paintball team was not recognized as a club sport until 2010. Today, the club is comprised of 25 members and continues to grow. Last year, the team placed third at nationals and were the National Collegiate Paintball Association 2A season champions.

Ecology senior Robert Hall is the president of the paintball team. Hall has been involved with paintball since he was young, receiving his first paintball gun when he was 12 years old.

“It’s really addicting,” Hall said. “Especially when I got my own equipment — I can go [to games] more often.”

Like Hall, vice president Alfred Haumpy said he was introduced to paintball early on.

“I used to play all the time with my uncles,” Haumpy said. “Everyone goes and plays at a birthdays, and then you get hooked on it. When you get into the tournament scene, you just want to be able to progress with other people.”

Throughout his youth, Haumpy juggled different sports, from club soccer, basketball, baseball and eventually football. After he was recruited to play football in college, Haumpy injured his lower back, resulting in four different surgeries. Haumpy looked for another sport during recovery and was drawn to paintball.

“After I got injured the second time, I quit,” Haumpy said. “I made the decision while I was recovering to play paintball.”

The team competes tournament-style, facing other teams in the region until they make it to nationals. Some regional teams are Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor, but they have competed with out-of-state teams like the University of Connecticut, Rutgers and the University of South Florida.

The fields they play on are smaller than the recreational paintball field, with barriers placed strategically to give them shots that the opposing teams do not have. The teams must communicate to figure out the status of their team and their opposition, all while paintballs are flying.

Members of the UNT paintball team walk onto the field before the next round of practice starts. Jacob Ostermann

Like most sports, it can get rough. Hall said that in general, sports in Texas are highly competitive — and paintball is no different.

“It’s just more intense and more brash here,” Hall said. “You got to other states and it’s just a different vibe for it.”

Finance senior Cooper Thanisch has been a part of the team for three years alongside Hall and Haumpy. He said paintball is an interesting sport because natural instincts conflict.

“You have to be tactical and you have to think through it,” Thanisch said. “It requires a lot of physical activity as well: Your adrenaline is telling you to go, and your brain is telling you to slow down.”

The team officially practices one or twice a month at the Fun on The Run paintball center in Fort Worth. For practice, they scrimmage, work on drills and focus on cardio and agility. However, they do not try and force the new members to work out in specific ways and instead try to focus on their strengths.

“For the first couple practices, we are trying to figure out where their best place on the team is since we don’t know their athletic abilities,” Hall said.

The majority of their training is done outside of official practice sessions. Hall said the reason why people have difficulty committing is due to the cost of playing the sport itself. However, the team is still open to any newcomers.

“If you can pay for meets and practices, that’s good,” Thanisch said. “We like when people can show commitment to the mandatory practices, but we don’t turn anybody away.”

The game requires fast-thinking while also being quite technical. It allows the players to exert themselves without physical contact. Hall describes the game as “mental gymnastics” while also doing cardio. Depending on the number of players a team has at that moment, players can play on the offensive or defensive side.

“The best thing is to not get tunnel vision and focus on one thing,” Thanisch said. “You have to be able to focus on what’s in front of you as well as what’s going on to the sides.”

Several schools had professional paintballers on their teams. A professional paintball player is an athlete who has accumulated points by competing outside of college. With enough points, players can earn the title as a professional.

Colleges have no restriction on the level which club members must be to join, therefore professionals can easily play brand new members. Several years ago, major rival Texas A&M had multiple players who were professional paintball athletes.

“I felt like I improved so much more because I was getting destroyed by professional players,” Thanisch said. “It helped us and gave us something to motivate our players. Whenever we came back last year, we said we are beating A&M and we did it.”

Haumpey said they cannot do what they do without the help of Assistant Director of Club Sports Hillary Wells.

Wells oversees the 33 different clubs that UNT Rec Sports offers. Wells said while she advises the club sports on the logistics and regulations they must follow, the team does it all by themselves.

“They run everything [and] I just give them the tools to accomplish their goals,” Wells said. “They put a lot of work in and are passionate about what they do. My goal is to help get the word out there as much as possible.”

Wells said that she admires all the clubs she watches over but enjoys watching the paintball team play.

“That’s what’s exciting about watching it — the fast-paceness,” Wells said. “It’s fun to watch, it’s exciting and they’re good at it.”

Hall, Haumpy and Thanisch are looking forward to what they will accomplish this year with a brand-new team and a brand-new year.

Featured Image: A player takes cover behind a bunker during practice. Once a player gets hit, they’re out for the round. Jacob Ostermann

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Anna Orr

Anna Orr

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