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On Wednesday April 21, 1999 Stevens Institute of Technology held its first ever intramural paintball. This small engineering and science college in Hoboken New Jersey overlooks the Hudson River to New York City. On that Wednesday students who were used to going to and from class past the athletic field saw something completely new to them, a 150’ X 100’ netted in arena sitting on the field. During the previous night the Stevens Paintball Club, lead by Michael Quinn, had constructed a speedball court for the 5 man tournament which was held as part of the school’s spring festival called “Boken”.
The tournament was 5 man speedball with a center flag and followed NPPL style rules. The referees were volunteers from several amateur and pro teams including, the Armored Saints, Joy Division, Justice, and the Stevens Paintball Team. 40 student and faculty teams signed up to play, including an athletic department team, a police department team, a cafeteria workers team, and 3 all female teams. In addition, 8 of the 9 fraternities and one of the sororities entered 1 to 3 teams each. There were 10 divisions of 4 teams. Each team played a round robin within its division and the highest scoring team went to the semifinals where it was single elimination. The winning teams were Sigma Phi Epsilon’s “Sexual Chocolate” in first place, Sigma Nu’s “Four” in second, and “Silence” in third.
There were many things which were unique and new to this tournament. The first is that it was held on an urban college campus. Approval to hold such an event did not come easily, but through a lot of campaigning and political maneuvering it was accomplished. The funds were approved by the student government and the field itself was built by the Stevens Paintball Club. The club bought a field starter package and netting from National Paintball Supply which included 20 Tippmann Model 98’s. These markers, along with Scott masks and jumpsuits were handed out to players as they entered the field to play. The bunkers were the new inflatable “Archie Bunkers” from Pro-Team Products. The paint used was Diablo Paintballs supplied by EMR Paintball Park (green and black shell with green fill to blend into the grass). The initial air fills were done by Splatter Zone in Jersey City. All the fixtures for the netting were built by the club using 14’ PVC pipes, rope, and 1’ stakes.
Another unique aspect to the tournament was the fact that most of the participants never played paintball before. Of the 200+ players only about 40 had been on the regular Paintball Club trips. Everyone that played had a great time. There was even some time for open play when none registered people could play a game or two. By mid afternoon a large crowd had formed around the arena to see what was going on, and many waited patiently for a chance to play. Over 300 people got to participate in some way, nearly one quarter of the student body, making it by far the most popular Boken event in years.
The event was planned and implemented completely by students. All the officers in the club, along with its advisor, Robert Grieser and club member Ed Trasferini, put in long hours to make the tournament a reality. Michael Quinn, the Club founder and member of the Armored Saints got the idea for the tournament from his trip to Skyball ’98. He figured “If a tournament can be held in close quarters at the Skydome, then surely we could hold one at Stevens”. In addition he stated “There is a huge interest to play paintball at all ages, but when students reach college they either do not have the time or money to play. I wanted to provide a way that anyone who wanted to could play this game”. Michael Quinn started the club in 1997 based on this idea. The Club now gets funds from the student government to run 2 large trips a semester to various paintball fields. In the fall of 1997 Michael joined the amateur paintball team called the Armored Saints. His experience gained from playing with the Armored Saints allowed him to build the club into a strong organization `and organize the Stevens Tech Paintball Tournament.
The Stevens paintball tournament showed the whole school that paintball is not just a “war game” played on some remote patch of woods. It showed that it can be played safely as a fun and competitive team sport. It also showed that it can be played on any college campus by men and women. The club hopes that the success of this event will lead to more college level play and eventually to paintball becoming a varsity sport.