Sometimes, the third time is a charm.
For California State University, Long Beach’s (CSULB) club paintball team, it was certainly true as it captured the 2012 National Collegiate Paintball Association (NCPA) Class A Division Championship at the Central Florida Paintball facility in Lakeland, Fla., following back-to-back years of finishing second.
CSULB defeated the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the championship game by a score of 8-4. In its preliminary games on Friday, April 13, the 49ers defeated Ohio, 9-1, Connecticut, 6-5, and West Point, 7-3. On Saturday, April 14, CSULB faced and defeated Ohio again, 8-2, and Maryland, 8-2, to move into the semifinals on Sunday, April 15, where it defeated Liberty, 8-5, to advance into the title game.
“I think winning the championship was a realistic goal for our team from the very beginning of the season,” said Erik Muto, one of the players, who also serves as team president. “Every year our club has become more and more legitimate, and this year we worked really hard having 6 a.m. workouts twice a week to get our players physically conditioned. We had a lot of club meetings and practiced way more than we had before, which made us more cohesive as a group. So, we knew going into the tournament that we definitely were going to win this.”
Just completing its fifth year in existence, CSULB’s paintball squad became the first West Coast school to ever win the national title, and with all but two players eligible to return next season, CSULB should be a clear favorite to repeat in 2013. In 2008, the club’s inaugural season, it won the 2008 NCPA Class AA Division title.
“Nebraska was considered a powerhouse because four out of its five players play professional paintball together and they were just smashing teams all weekend,” said Muto, a senior business economics major from Alta Loma, who also serves as pit captain, the person who makes sure players are equipped properly during the game as well as working on strategy.
“Other teams seemed to be scared of them, but we didn’t really worry about it because we knew they were beatable. We knew if we played our game, we’d be all right. We just watched what they were doing; we picked up on some tendencies of theirs that they were making a lot of mistakes on, and we just went in with a game plan to try to capitalize on them, and we did.”
Three standouts led the team throughout the weekend—senior, nutrition major Corey Borenstein from Santa Rosa; senior kinesiology major Chris Tregarthen from Redondo Beach and senior civil engineering major Brian Moy from Yorba Linda. Tregarthen had a particularly interesting tournament, breaking his trigger hand on the first day, but continued to play after being cared for by the tournament medical staff, who wrapped and put a brace on it.
“The last two years we went to nationals, everybody hated us simply because we were from the West Coast,” said Muto. “They would do anything to make sure we didn’t win. And this year everyone loved us because we had made a lot of friends. In the final game people were chanting, ‘Long Beach, Long Beach.’ It was really awesome; it was as a good feeling.”
CSULB was coached in the tournament by paintball alumnus John Millman, who now plays the sport professionally and is the individual responsible for starting the program on campus.
“We’ve come a long way since John began the program,” said Muto. “I honestly just want people to know that we’re here, that there is a paintball team at Cal State Long Beach. We’re a legitimate program; we put a lot of time and effort into this and we just want to get recognized. We all love it and enjoy it and all we really want to do is grow the sport.”