The splatter of paint on T-shirts, the sound of compressed air discharged through the barrel of a high-powered paintball gun, and the occasional welts and turf burn can be expected of most paintball clubs.
But the SVSU paintball club says it has more than that to offer.
The club meets at 9 p.m. every Monday in the Wedge Lounge.
Members have restructured the club to ensure success. The hard work has brought them closer; they pride themselves on their diversity.
“The team is like a family,” said Joey Wisniewski, business junior. “They are people you can hang out with even outside the club.”
Wisniewski has been playing paintball for eight years, two of those years for the SVSU team.
“Paintball is a lifestyle for us,” Wisniewski said.
“We take care of each other,” said Bruce Bianchi, pre-law junior and ten-year paintball enthusiast.
“Every day we push each other to become better and reach our full potential,” Bianchi said.
Ryan Jones, the club’s president, criminal justice senior and 13-year paintball veteran, is proud of the friendships that have grown within the team.
“We are a smaller, close-knit group to be a part of,” Jones said. “When you’re on the field, you’re playing for that person next to you.”
Cost may deter many people from joining the team.
“It’s definitely a lot more expensive than most clubs,” said Mike Saylor, secondary education senior.
Saylor has played paintball for 10 years.
“I’ve sacrificed weekends of fun with friends just so I could save up my money for a new gun,” Wisniewski said.
Jones said that he doesn’t want money to interfere with new participation.
“If you need equipment, we are more than happy to let you borrow some of ours,” Jones said.
Aside from equipment costs, club costs and funding has also been a challenge for the team.
National Collegiate Paintball Association (NCPA) tournaments can run upwards of $400 for participation.
Since there are no cash prizes at these events and since the team has limited sponsorship it can be difficult to afford these events.
This year, the team is planning fundraisers and researching sponsors to help ease the financial strains.
Countless hours have gone into improving the team.
“We spend 10-15 hours a week on and off the field, not only working on the game, but working through business-related aspects of the club,” Bianchi said. “We are all dedicated to the team.”
Paintball has its challenges in the recruitment process.
“The problem is that collegiate paintball is not a feeder system for the pros like most sports, Wisniewski said. “Pros occasionally announce at the events, but it’s still hard to get recognition.”
Even with no rewards for playing a hard match, the entire team agrees it’s about more than that.
Members said they play for their own pride.
Although SVSU paintball is a club team with no official University sponsorship, members still choose to show their Cardinal spirit and represent SVSU on and off the field.
“Even when I’m playing in the woods I’m still wearing my red and black,” Jones said.
Some may see paintball as being an elite, male-dominated sport, but the SVSU paintball club hopes to break this stereotype. The club is open to anyone of any skill level.
“I’m a girl and I’ve always wanted to play on a paintball team,” said Danielle Nash, biology freshman and rookie paintball player. “I had really no experience, but since I’ve stuck with it, the guys have been more than helpful and I’ve had a blast. I would definitely encourage more girls to join.”