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With college paintball gaining popularity, interest in joining college teams has grown. The idea of creating or joining a college team may seem intimidating to some but it’s easier than you think. If you’re interested in joining or starting a team, then this basic guide to college paintball is for you.

Creating A College Paintball Team:

Putting together a college team seems like it would be complicated but truth be told, what you put in is what you get out. You have two options when creating a University affiliated team; it can either be a recognized club or a school-sponsored club. While either category can still play in collegiate paintball tournaments, it is more desirable to be a school-sponsored club because of the benefits. However, starting a recognized club is much simpler than gaining school sponsorship. You would need to consider each option and determine which is best for your team. Ryan Sutten, President of the University of Texas at Austin Paintball Club, explained that “all you need [to start a recognized club] are five guys [and/or girls] that enjoying playing together that all go to the same University”. Ryan has been working to gain school sponsorship for his team. He gave us the break down of what it takes.

“Becoming a recognized club is as simple as filling out the proper paperwork and giving it to the proper employee at your University. Becoming a school sponsored club however, is much more difficult. You must show your worth to the school by making a formal presentation to the board of RecSports, filling out an extensive application, etc. and then wait to hear back hoping you proved yourself as more worthy than the other applicants. You must show that you are financially stable, have good leadership, are organized and will be able to sustain yourself before they even consider you to become sponsored. It is a difficult process that we are still trying to overcome, but are constantly inching closer and closer with each passing day.”

Although the school-sponsored team requirements are goals to which every team should aspire, becoming a recognized club is a good starting point.

Joining An Established College Team:

Reaching out to an established group of players can be a daunting task for some, but don’t be shy! The first step in joining a college team is finding one. Searching through a list of your University’s official clubs is a great starting point. Online resources like Facebook and PBNation are great opportunities to find other players in your area. Justin Willingham, former University of North Texas Paintball Team Captain and Director of the SCCC, gave us his recommendation on getting involved in an existing team.

“Use your resources! There is a large and very eager community of college students/paintball players on We’re always looking to help other players and teams grow the sport. … Make it happen! It’s such a great opportunity to make new friends, travel, and network! Don’t be shy or timid. Most teams will be stoked to have new members in the organization.”

Playing In Tournaments:

Now that you’ve found a team you might be wondering what it takes to play on a tournament squad. Don’t let being a beginner or a newbie scare you away from the opportunity to play in competitions. Remember that every master was once an amateur. Don’t let your skill level deter you from getting involved. There are three key traits every tournament player needs to be successful. If you are dedicated, coachable, and able to learn from your mistakes then you have the potential to play in tournaments. Ryan told us about his personal paintball experience and gave us some advice for new players.

“I’ve been a part of the UT Paintball squad since fall of 2010, when I barely knew anything about the competitive paintball world. I started at the bottom and learned as I’ve come along through more seasoned players in the club. I was selected as the Captain of the team two years ago and the President this past year. It has been a long journey of learning and growing, and I’ve loved every second of it. We welcome everyone to join because everyone starts at the same point. Like I touched on before, when I started at UT, I was terrible and knew VERY little about paintball. In order to play on the tournament squad you must be dedicated, coachable, and able to learn from your mistakes. If you can do those three things, with the help of more experienced players that seasoned NCPA programs can offer, anyone can play in the NCPA events! If you are wanting to join, get in contact with a member of the team and just go play. Nothing can replace getting out on the field and playing against other people, don’t overthink it!”

Making Your College Team Successful:

How successful your team becomes is dependent on how much effort you put into it. You can grow your team as large as you like or keep it small. There are six main components to a successful team; organization, strong leadership, consistent marketing/recruitment, financial stability, dedication, and a sense of family. Ryan explained how to apply a business structure to a paintball team.

“I like to view it as one would a business. You always have to grow and keep bettering yourself as a 5-man team and organization. If you stay stagnant, eventually you will go out of business because someone else will innovate and grow stronger than you, so you have to stay on top of your marketing and recruitment of new teammates as well as budgeting more closely while finding ways to practice more for less by finding deals and negotiating. It can take a lot of work, or just a little, but the outcome of creating something is very rewarding!”

While the business mindset is an essential element to have a successful team, it’s important to remember one of the best things about being part of a team, friendship. Justin told us a bit about his personal experience in the NCPA.

“I’ve been a part of the Class AA Championship Team twice and the one thing that has always been consistent in our success is the sense of family. We didn’t just practice one week, show up for an event the next and see our teammates every now and then. We were always hanging out in between classes, having cook outs on the weekends, rooming together in apartments or dorms and just always kickin’ it like a real family should. Really dysfunctional and bonkers sometimes, but a family nonetheless.”

Now you have the tools for creating a team, joining a team, playing in tournaments, and making a college paintball team successful. Get out on the field, put these tools to work and have some fun!