Bama paintball building a dynastyBy Brett Hudson | 04/21/2011 11:05pm
Some traditions of excellence will probably never change at the University of Alabama. The football team will always be on a nationally important scale, gymnastics will be a threat to win national titles year in and year out and, of course, there are academics.
Alabama paintball has been slowly climbing its way onto that list.
Alabama’s club paintball team made the trip to Central Florida Paintball in Lakeland, Fla., from April 15-17 and finished 11th in the National Collegiate Paintball Association championship tournament.
The team has only been together for two months.
“The seven guys that we brought with us, we had only been playing together for about two months,” said club treasurer John Moncrief, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice. “And we beat teams that have been together for years, so we were fairly impressed with ourselves.”
Having a team that had so little time together succeed against the best has many wondering, does the Crimson Tide really have that much pure talent on the team, or did they just come together as teammates flawlessly?
“I think it was a little bit of both,” Moncrief said. “I mean, we have a lot of talented guys, but we all got together quickly and our passion for the sport really brought us all together.”
More than 50 teams entered the NCPA tournament in 2011, with a complicated bye round system for the teams that succeeded in preliminary play. Since Alabama was a new team and did not participate in the preliminaries, it was placed in one of the tournament’s hardest five-team pools, competing against Baylor, Texas State, Louisiana Tech and Liberty for the right to advance.
The Tide beat all four teams in stunning upsets, especially over Baylor and Liberty, both proven paintball powerhouses, and continued until eventually falling to the national runners-up Western Michigan Broncos.
After the Cinderella ride through the NPCA championship tournament, club president Cory Smith is looking to bring awareness of the sport’s existence on campus while improving the quality of the traveling team that represents the University.
“At the beginning of next year we’re going to be throwing some events,” Smith said. “Discounted play, social events, we’re just trying to get people out there playing. Because most of the time, once they get out there and play, they get addicted and keep playing.”
After some success on the national level and attention on campus, now the paintball club has one question to answer: when is the first national paintball championship being brought back to Tuscaloosa?
“Hopefully really soon,” Moncrief said. “I’m not going to make any predictions, but we hope to have one within the next two years. [Smith]’s going to be here for the next three, and I’ll be here for the next two at least.”