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CFOA Season Opener 
Shatters Records
Text and photographs by Joshua D. Silverman
Assistant Editor of Paintball 2Xtremes Magazazine

The Carolina Field Owners Association has become famous over the last several years for continually setting and subsequently smashing their own regional attendance records.  The five-man rookie, novice and amateur tournament series hosts eight dates per season in the Mid-Atlantic region and has done so since its creation by Larry Motes and Rick Leonard in 1998.  Since that time, the league has grown to become the third largest paintball tournament series in the United States, just behind the Paintball Sports Promotions and National Professional Paintball League national series.  In 2003, the CFOA set a regional attendance record at 91, five-man teams at Rob Staudinger's Paintball Central facility in Greensboro, North Carolina, but promoter Larry Motes felt certain heading into 2004 that this record would be broken.  When the 116th team registered to compete at the inaugural event of the 2004 season, Motes was proven correct in his belief that "2003 was no fluke."

For 2004, league promoter Larry Motes, along with Sponsorship Coordinator Josh Silverman, pulled out all the stops in their attempts to make the CFOA the best league it could possibly be.  Heading into the first event of the season, they feverishly called, emailed and negotiated with numerous sponsors and tinkered with the systems the league utilized to promote their events, eventually making numerous additions to the sponsorship lineup and streamlining the CFOA system of running tournaments.  The sponsorship lineup for 2004 now includes returning presenting sponsor National Paintball Supply and several other returning sponsors, including Paintball Central, Crossfire Inc, Paintball 2Xtremes, WARPIG, Ultimate Air Ball, Airgun Designs, XSF, Diablo, Powerlyte, Kalibur, The Angel Guy and Morgan Awards, and a host of new sponsors led by DYE, who signed a massive sponsorship agreement with the CFOA only days before the first event of the season.  Other new sponsors for 2004 include Mantis, who became the presenting sponsor of the Rookie division with their line of packs, soft goods and apparel, Hammerhead, Reactive Paintball, Southern Paintball Concepts, Bunkerking, VForce, Draxxus, Ronn Stern, DerDer Productions, Proto, Ratco, Paintball Kingdom, the Ultimate Madness, the Aruba Madness, Barrel Buffer, Planet Eclipse, Onlypaintball.com and Flagpull.com.  With such an amazing host of sponsors for 2004 offering prizes from Python Impulse Paintball guns, trips to the World Cup, skids of Inferno Paintballs, dozens of barrels, goggle systems, and the usual thousands of dollars in cash, the prize package for each event now easily tops fifteen thousand dollars in cash and retail value of prizes for a season total of well in excess of 120 thousand dollars.

New in 2004 from the CFOA promoters includes new Ultimate Air Ball playing fields, scorekeepers behind covered scorer's tables at each field with scoresheets in triplicate already filled out prior to every game and an online registration system allowing teams to pay with their credit card long before the event is scheduled to begin.  In addition to the already modern facilities such as Kalibur push button fill stations and 4,500psi fills with no air lines thanks to Paintball Central and trade shows rapidly resembling those at national-level events, the CFOA's latest amenities have created a league in which its players can truly take pride. Other news from the CFOA for 2004 included the announcement that the league would take an event to a new state, Georgia.  The Georgia event, along with events in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, have made the CFOA a truly regional league with scores of teams participating from as far away as Virginia, West Virginia and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic region.

The inaugural event of the 2004 CFOA calendar took the league and its players to the fabulous NewGen Paintball facility located in Easley, South Carolina, near Greenville.  With a huge store and former indoor field facility and numerous outdoor fields close behind the building, the event, even with 116 teams attending, was small and compact allowing teams to stage near every field.  As the indoor field had been dismantled before the event, the indoor space was used instead for the scoreboard, hot food concessions and the trade show, which included massive displays from National Paintball Supply, Brimstone Smokin Paintball (with Pat O'Toole in attendance), The Angel Guy, Paintball Kingdom, Barrel Buffers and Reactive Paintball, who provided the CFOA with an outstanding set of custom referee jerseys that gave the entire event staff an aura of uniformity and professionalism, helped along by the fact that each field's referee crew was led by a professional, paid head referee to prevent bias.  Several of the head referees were, in fact, members of National XBall League franchise team Trauma, a fact that in and of itself prevented many arguments before they started.

After an intense winter storm piled as much as a foot of snow on the Carolinas only days before the event, many teams struggled to make it to NewGen in time for the event, but over sixty rookie teams began arriving Friday night for their stand-alone event Saturday as the CFOA crew constructed the fields upon which they would play.  Four fields were used for the event, including a brand new Ultimate Air Ball battlefield and an XBall field.  Fields were constructed to play hard and fast, and award aggressive play.  On each field, sponsor Ronn Stern had provided take-home flags that would allow each and every player who pulled a flag to take it home with them, a concept greeted with great pleasure by the players, who, no matter their final place in the event, could now take home a trophy.

While the snow had long since melted from the four fields at NewGen and the weather forecast was for a warm, sunny weekend, Saturday dawned crisp and cold for the rookies.  Games began early and play was intense, as rookies armed with everything from Tippmanns to Intimidators took to the fields to compete for a Mantis prize package augmented by gracious support from DYE and Rob Astamendi of DerDer Productions, who had flown in to cover the event and create a CFOA DVD.  By late afternoon the sixteen teams who had made the semifinals cut had been whittled down to four finalists, including Defy, Diffusion, Last Call and Panic, who all played impressive paintball to reach the afternoon's final round.  Just as the sun slipped behind the trees and the temperature began to drop, the final game ended and Diffusion had won the day, with Panic, Last Call and Defy rounding out the top four.

Sunday morning dawn as cold and crisp as Saturday, but as the novice and amateur teams began their day of competition the sun warmed the fields to a comfortable and sunny sixty degrees.  After playing a mixed preliminary round with novices and amateurs competing together, the teams were divided into their respective classifications for the semifinal and final rounds.  The amateur division, always known as a stepping stone to national competition, was more competitive than ever before, with 2003 champions XSF joined in the semifinals by Thrash Black, Overload, Mantis Factory, Body Count, Addiction, Machine and Virus.  The novice division was no less competitive, with CCX, Factory Mantis, Inviscid and Fracture leading the way.  Again, the entire event was completed in daylight with Overload proving much too powerful for the rest of the amateurs, with Thrash Black and Mantis Factory bringing up second and third.  CCX took the novice division, ahead of Factory Mantis and Inviscid.  

While the players dismantled their tents and packed their trailers and cars for the trip home, the CFOA staff headed out to break the fields down and the inaugural event of the banner 2004 CFOA season was over, pronounced a huge success by all the attendees.  The next event of the 2004 CFOA calendar takes the league to a new home, Ultimate Paintball near Atlanta, Georgia, where the competition is certain to be hot.  For more information on the CFOA, visit the official website at www.thecfoa.com and stay tuned to Paintball 2Xtremes Magazine (www.pb2x.com) and WARPIG.com for full coverage.
 


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