Paintball Team Powers Through Nat’l Tournament Debut

paintballDedicating copious amounts of time throughout the season practicing to perfect their game paid off.

North Dakota State’s Paintball Club Team made quite an impression last weekend, making its national tournament debut at the National Collegiate Paintball Association’s tournament in Kissimmee, Florida.

Making the trip and competing for the Bison were Alex Volk, Aaron Schaefer, Brandon Tatge, Brandon Huffman, team captain Conner Poppke and Cole Praus.

The guys all agreed the competition was good for the school’s program as well as the team as a whole.

“We benefited as a group of friends and definitely on the field as a team,” Poppke said. “Going through all the time, effort and money to make this trip happen definitely shows the commitment we have to make this happen.”

Most players didn’t have the highest of expectations since it was the team’s first time at nationals. Common goals for the team included making it out of the preliminary round and into Sunday’s round of competition, which the team fought hard to do.

With a rocky start, the team recovered enough to give them a shot at Sunday’s competition.

“We started off pretty rough, to say the least,” Praus said. “But we turned it around and ended up going 2-2 in prelims.”

Though the team left slightly disappointed after being knocked out of Sunday’s match by the University of Akron, its play throughout the rest of the tournament made up for it.

“I am happy with how our team played in the tournament — specifically how we played together as a team,” Huffman said.

One player who really stood out for the team was freshman Tatge who, in his first season on the team, traveled and competed with the more experienced players.

“Our new pick up, Brandon Tatge, really impressed me,” Praus said. “He was not afraid to get up close and personal and to get work done and it helped us win some points.”

With a few of the teams more experienced players leaving next year, including Poppke, any attention the team can gain will help to bring in prospective players for next year.

“The way we played impressed a lot of people,” Poppke said. “So hopefully we can scoop up some incoming freshman that want to play paintball and keep the club going.”

Many of the members also give credit to Poppke, for bringing the team together and encouraging each of the teammates.

“This year with (Poppke’s) motivation, this club has had a solid year of competition,” Huffman said.

As for the future of the club, some of the older members have a feeling that the team’s appearance in this year’s tournament and the publicity surrounding the event could benefit the club next year.

“Hopefully the public will become more aware of this club and draw their interest to paintball because this is such a great sport with a great community within the sport,” Huffman said.

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