The Georgia State Paintball Club is headed to the National Collegiate Paintball Association (NCPA) National Championship in Orlando, Florida from April 15-17. The Panthers will be one of approximately 50 schools in attendance at the competition.
“Georgia Tech will be there, Virginia Tech,” former club president and current member Zachary Russell said. “Just a lot of people. We got some of our rivals for sure, so we’ll see what happens.”
Currently a graduate student at Georgia State, Russell said the club was founded seven years ago by the former students.
“We started back in 2009,” he said. “Previous tournament players saw other colleges with teams, so they went and formed a team.”
According to the Georgia State Student Organizations website, there are currently 425 clubs at the University, which include 23 sport clubs. Russell said he found out about the paintball club while surfing online for his options as an undergraduate student at Georgia State.
“I saw a picture of a guy diving mid-air and I was like, ‘That looks cool. I’ll probably be pretty good at that.’ I come out my first time, I get destroyed, but I liked it, so I kept coming back and now here I am,” Russell said during the club’s weekly four-hour practice.
Why practice in Canton?
The club practices about a 50 minute drive away from the main Atlanta campus in Canton, Georgia. Although there are closer fields in Atlanta, Nitro Paintball field owner Mario Marcseo aims for a more intimate experience at his location.
“Before I did this, I was in the computer business; I hated every minute of it,” Marcseo said. “I wanted to do something where I could actually see the smile on somebody’s face, because they enjoyed what they did or what they got or how they were treated. I like to know, that when you leave here, you say, ‘Wow, we had a blast at Nitro.’”
Marcseo has owned the land and his business for 15 years now that now calls itself home to some of the biggest schools in the southeast region. Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State are among the teams that join Georgia State as universities that practice at Nitro. Marcseo said although all of the business has made him money, the growth of relationships is what makes the field so special.
“People usually come through here and talk about how great of a field it is. I say, ‘yeah, but what really makes it a great field is the people that come here.’”he said. “I’ve seen a lot of friendships formed right here at Nitro. I’ve raised a number of these young men. From 10 years old all the way up to into their mid-20’s. Many of them have gone on and gotten married, had children, have real jobs in the real world and we keep in contact.”
Marcseo also said Georgia State alum Gary Smith assisted him in hosting NCPA Tournaments at Nitro in the past. As far as the upcoming national tournament goes, the Georgia State club would be playing for bragging as there’s no cash prize or incentive for the winners. The highest the club has ever placed in the event was fourth in the 2011-12 season and last year the club placed nineteenth.