Play Ball -- Paintball That Is!
July 21, 2005
Whoever said all work and no play has probably never played paintball! The past two Wednesday afternoons, members of the Florida State football team have done just that ... played paintball. Because teamwork and good communication are key components in sports, paintball is a great teambuilding tool. Of course, it's also great fun. Coordinated by the FSU strength and conditioning and student services departments, the Seminoles divided into two groups, the skill players and linemen and each group headed out to the Tallahassee Paintball Center for an afternoon of action.
"Theoretically, this is to help the guys build teamwork and work on communication," John Lata, Director of FSU Athletics Student Services said. "I've noticed they keep wanting to break it up into offense and defense, so I think they're enjoying that. Last year, we took them out to the ropes course at the Seminole Reservation and did some things where they learned to work as a team which was neat but this year we decided to let them have a little bit more fun and get them out in the sun and let them sweat a bit. This is something that everybody's heard about but not everybody's done, so this gave them an opportunity to get out and see what it's all about and at the same time, have fun doing something together."
The players had to wear masks and many also wore long pants and long sleeves for protection since the paintballs can sting. Others, however, chose to wear tank tops and shorts because it was a typical hot summer day in Florida. Either way, however, once the action got underway, the guys forgot about the heat and even the sting of the paintballs because they were just having a great time.
"This experience shows that there is more to life than football and I guess that's paintball," redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Weatherford said with a laugh. "We find out pretty quickly who's good at paintball and who's not. It's unbelievably fun. We should do this every week because it's a great way to get your frustrations out and then when we leave, we are all best friends again."
But the fun and games did not occur without a value attached. Sometimes it's in a carefree environment where you find out who you can count on and who you can't.
"I think it has been good because first of all, we're all having fun together, the team together," senior cornerback Gerard Ross said. "The way we divided the teams out here is kind of like offense and defense which is the way it's going to be in a real game so it teaches us to go to battle together and see who you can depend on. That's how I look at it."
According to Noah Honeybone, manager of the Tallahassee Paintball Center, a variety of groups come out and play paintball, including corporations, business groups and even church groups.
"I like to promote the sport, because it's a good sport," Honeybone said. "It's good for team spirit and keeping the guys together by playing together. For real paintball players, it's a bonding experience. For these guys, they will probably bond more afterwards when they go home and talk about who shot who and things like that. This is the first time we've ever had a sports team out here other than a paintball team. These guys are just out here having fun and not getting all caught up in the rules or taking it too seriously."
"We are always around each other in a Florida State-type atmosphere whether it's academics, or whether it's football practice, and to come out here and just relax and have a good time and not have to worry about the coaches and academic advisors, it's just a great getaway," Weatherford said. "We're on the job like six hours almost every day so it's just nice to play."
Here's what some of the other players thought:
"It's pretty wild basically and a lot of guys cheat," senior defensive end Kamerion Wimbley said with a chuckle. "It's painful. I thought it would be a little less painful but I got hit a couple times. It helps with team-building because you work together as partners. We're doing it today as offense vs. defense, but on the field, we'll be supporting each other and not going against our own teammates. Basically, it helps form a bond because we're doing something together. It's just a lot of fun. We should come out here every year."
"It's a lot of fun, a big adrenaline rush and a big workout, I'm really sweating out here," freshman kicker Graham Gano said. "We should do this together more than once a year."
"It was just great to come out here and have a lot of fun with my fellow teammates," freshman defensive tackle Letroy Guion said. "I was the last one standing one game because I hide. It hurts, but I would love to do this every year if I had the chance to."
"I had a lot of fun out here," junior offensive lineman Mario Henderson said. "I actually didn't think it was going to be that good, it's just paintball, but man, we came out here and had fun. It's just something else for us to do. We play as a team almost every day on the football field with practice, but we should do other things outside of football and school and this was nice. We should do this more often. It helps in team-building because you know if you're on a certain team, you are going to look out for a teammate and if he runs out of paintballs, you're going to give him some of yours so it helps us to learn to play together."
"I thought it was pretty cool, pretty fun and something the team could do together and work together and strategize a little bit," sophomore offensive guard Jacky Claude said. "I think everyone learned to work together as a unit, how to strategize and take over your opponent's territory without getting shot."