Oct. 19, 2002
Cadet paintballers bound for World Cup
by Edward C.
of the Charleston Post and Courier staff
1861, a team of Citadel cadets made history by loading a cannon
and firing the first shots of the Civil War. These days, another
team of cadets hopes to make some less dramatic history - not with
cannon balls but with paintballs.
military college's first paintball team is ranked 18th in the country
among amateurs and has been invited to play next week in the 2002
World Cup competition in Kissimmee, Fla. More than 300 professional
and amateur paintball teams, including another team from the Paintball
Charleston store on Dorchester Road, will compete at the World Cup.
competition, in which teams wear protective gear and meet in close,
combat-like situations, is not only a huge adrenaline rush but also
a huge drain on the pocketbook, said team leader Brian Hess, a senior
The Citadel, paintball is a club sport not supported by the school.
Players must pay for their equipment and practice, off campus, on
their own time.
put a lot of time and a lot of money into this. Everyone here has
laid out at least two grand," Hess said.
said compressed air-powered paintball "guns" cost up to
$1,000 each. A case of marble-sized paint balls is $40, and the
nitrogen gas canisters that propel the paintballs run about $5 each.
there are helmets and padded shorts needed for protection from paintballs
that leave the gun at 200 mph.
10 cadets each had experienced paintball competition before coming
to The Citadel, and two team members played in the World Cup previously
while in high school. Hess has the most experience, with eight years.
a different kind of team sport," Hess said. "It's a rush.
You are constantly on the move. It's non-stop."
cadets receive a military education, Hess said battlefield tactics
are not helpful in this kind of competition. The sport is more like
SWAT team combat, he said.
they have accomplished is phenomenal," said Vic Brandt, the
team's faculty advisor.
said he believes cadet training has allowed the team to advance
quickly in a very competitive sport.
training they get in discipline, and the lessons they learn in team
work and camaraderie have helped them to get to this level."
recalled with a smile the first time The Citadel team played against
Clemson, the only other collegiate paintball team in the state.
the Clemson team was attired in standard paintball gear including
T-shirts and shorts, The Citadel team showed up in camouflage, boots
and military helmets. "They looked like they had been in Afghanistan
a few months," Brandt said.
Clemson won the battle that day, Brandt said the cadets emerged
a much better team.
cadet team practices on a James Island field while hoping the college
will agree to give them more support and a place to practice on
campus, Brandt said.
paintball usually involves a capture-the-flag-like game in which
each squad runs, jumps and crawls around inflatable buildings and
fires little red balls of biodegradable red-dyed vegetable oil at
opposing team members while trying not to be hit themselves.
a red blotch anywhere on your body, even the hand, means you have
said the World Cup has asked the 12 collegiate teams invited, including
The Citadel's, to try a new paintball game called Xball. Hess said
Xball employs aspects of football, hockey and soccer, into two 15-minute
periods of play.
paintballs can sting and bruise, the cadets insist the sport is
safer than golf, where players are sometimes struck by lightning.
fact, getting hit can be a point of pride.
got 11 welts on me from yesterday," team member Nick Frantz
a sophomore from Greer, and Hess will make the World Cup trip with
fellow team members Jay Lane, a sophomore from Jacksonville, N.C.;
Vic Brandt, a sophomore from Charleston; David Ball, a junior from
Houston; Anthony James, a junior from Lake City; Erick Silitoe,
a junior from Cedar Run; Mackie Rachman, a freshman from Fort Myers,
Fla.; John Tarsitano, a sophomore from Savannah; and Michael "Wolf"
Honefenge, a sophomore from Houston.