When looking at the SCSU Paintball club, the members just keep on smiling, and why not?
Entering just their fourth season after being granted full university recognition in December 2008, Southern is being rewarded for their dominating season last year by recently accepting the prestigious invitation to join Class A competition for this season.
Southern will join the Northeast Conference with UConn, Northeastern and West Point. The Owls replace Rutgers, who moved down to Class AA.
“We’re really psyched for this year,” senior and line one captain, Eric Sanchez said. “I always wanted to play on TV, and now it finally happens. Now, we have to become one of the top 12 to make nationals.”
Representing the Northeast Intercollegiate Conference (NEIC), Southern ended last season ranked No. 5 in the NCPA Class AA rankings with 527.97 points overall. The season was highlighted by a third place finish in the Class AA College and High School Paintball National Championships in Lakeland, Fla. Southern placed in the top three in each of its five competitions.
Their road included wins over Texas A&M, TCU, University of Wisconsin-Stout, and Georgia Tech in the consolation game.
“It’s kind of like hockey with the penalty boxes, points, things we haven’t seen before,” Sanchez said. “It will be more intense and a little more different because of the different format and division.”
Southern is one of six schools in the state to play paintball, second in Class A (UConn).
However, they will have to wait a bit longer to get things rolling this season after the Fall NEIC Class A – No. 1 was cancelled on Oct. 1 due to poor field conditions from the rain. It has been rescheduled as one of their first competitions for early November.
The Owls displayed their aggressive play during nationals, when they came back after a poor performance in preliminaries.
“I think our aggressive style will be beneficial,” Sanchez said. “It has been successful and we are known for it to do something crazy and be intimidating.”
Sanchez said as one of the veterans on the team, he hopes that whatever he can pass on to the younger guys pays off for them in the future.
“They need it take it to heart and cooperate with the team,” he said. “They will only get better if they do that.”
“The big difference from last year is that we need to finish closing better. Besides to gain points, finishing the last point and improving points.”
Southern paintball welcomes all Southern students to come out for the team, with no cuts.
There are three paintball teams at Southern, two men’s teams and a new women’s team. There are two lines for the men, and one for the women. Line one is led by Sanchez, and line two is led by captain Craig Desruisseaux. The female line was led by captain Jessica Schmidt.
Southern’s sponsors this season include Hogan’s Alley Paintball in Meriden, Buffalo Wild Wings in New Haven, Blake Street Pizza in New Haven, Academy Printwear in Hamden, and Dangerous Power Engineering.
With the entry into Class A, the expectations and rules will be heightened for the Owls. Sanchez said the team would also improve with more practice time, especially now with different competition.
“It is going to be completely different,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of good finishes. We have the same core, with a few new players.”
“We have really been practicing. The number (players) has gone up, which is a good thing, and we have good players.”