ISU Paintball Club reloads with underclassmen

Chase Russell

On a rain soaked course in Texas, Joseph Bauer and his teammates dove through knee-deep standing water, dodging opponent fire.

A storm rolled through Galveston Island during a spring break trip in 2011, leaving the complex almost entirely underwater, but that did not keep the ISU Paintball Club from competing.

Bauer, a senior in mechanical engineering and German, began his collegiate paintball career before arriving at Iowa State. As a high school student in Hastings, Minn., Bauer competed for the Wisconsin Stout team alongside his older brother.

Now the vice president of the ISU club, Bauer joined as a freshman in the fall of 2008. As one of the longest-tenured players on the team, Bauer has seen the good and the bad, but he described the club as successful and established on campus and in the National Collegiate Paintball Association.

“Just like any team, we’ve had our ups and downs; seasons when we’re a lot stronger than others,” Bauer said. “Otherwise, we’re always a strong presence in the league.”

Colin Neumann, junior in agricultural business, was elected president of the club after joining in the spring of his freshman year. Neumann, like Bauer and many others on the team, got his start in the sport at an early age.

Currently ranked 35th in the nation, the ISU Paintball Club has earned a reputation of consistency in the NCPA, according to Neumann.

“We have had pretty good roots as far as being around for a while,” Neumann said. “We have been a face in the league for quite a while now, over 10 years. At times, we’ve been ranked in the top-10.”

Neumann claimed the overall performance of the team can be heavily dictated by the incoming freshmen class.

With a mix of fresh talent in their newest crop of freshman and veteran experience from players such as Bauer, the club looks to return to the NCPA national championships in April 2014 after a 33rd place finish a year ago.

“The team fluctuates with every freshman class coming in, but there are a lot of good freshmen that came in this year,” Neumann said. “We have quite a few returners, and we have experience also.”

The freshmen the club relies on are not typical recruits, they seek out the opportunity to be a part of the team. The newest addition to the NCPA is a high school division.

It gives younger paintball players the opportunity to compete, but also enables channels of the recruitment to open up for schools such as Iowa State.

One recruitment tool the club can boast apart from other teams in the NCPA is its own paintball course.

In 2001, the team became the first in its league to acquire an on-campus course, just one year after the team’s founding. Owned and maintained by the university, the course is used primarily for practices and events hosted by the paintball club.

Like most club sports on campus, the paintball team is largely self-funded through membership dues and fundraising efforts. Bauer and Neumann agreed that they have made sacrifices for their organization, but their passion for the sport keeps them on the course.

“You have to have a lot of passion for it, especially being a college student,” Neumann said.