Playing ‘Ball for a Good Cause
By Jason “foolybear” Lineberger
Pictures by David Wooden
William “Willie” Stewart, a 25-year-old tournament paintball player and US soldier, was seriously injured on the first of July in Afghanistan in an IED attack while serving as a vehicle gunner. Willie faces a long recovery, and his parents must shoulder the costs of travel in order to support him while he heals from his injuries. To give back to a soldier who gave of his own time at his local paintball field and store, Black River’s Fayetteville field held an event in Willie’s honor, with a portion of the proceeds going to the soldier’s family. Additionally, Matt Sossoman, of professional team Vicious, promoted a raffle of a Vicious UWL jersey to raise additional funds.
The field itself is a rec’ player’s dream. Built on a former water park, Black River’s Fayetteville location compresses a variety of terrain into a manageable space. The field’s crew took 30 feet off the hill that once held the water slides, and they built a fort on the leveled top. The surrounding area is packed with bunkers, several two-story forts, and some CQB buildings. They have a wooded area that they’ve recently added, and the old go-kart tracks that wrapped the former park make moving from area to area a breeze. With so many bunkers and buildings, the place is stuffed with angles and possible moves.
The vibe at Black River felt like a reunion. Teams like Boss Company and Lost Boys, along with a smattering of tournament shooters, mixed with walk-on rec ‘ballers and a small mil-sim squad. Later in the day a young birthday group even joined in the action. Loosely based on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the game offered participants missions ranging from standard base defense ones to prop collection. While the props were impressive (real metal swords for instance), the teams mostly concentrated on pushing towards each other’s bases and fighting it out through the buildings and up the steep sides of the hill.
Foolybear on the Frontlines
I had a blast in the morning, gunning for the Red side (the dark forces of Mordor), but with members of Capital Offense and Boss Company shooting in the same direction, we eventually forced the Blue team into their base and kept them there for much of the morning. After the lunch break, Brian Radford (PSP referee and member of team Capital Offense) and I switched sides to help the Blue team to fight their way out of their base. We joined up with Sossoman and spearheaded a push up the hill to take the base overlooking most of the field. While Sossoman and Radford continued driving down hill and into the field’s center, I broke away and made a slow creep through the woods before coming up behind a deserted fort in Blue territory. The immediate threat of two paintball gunners from Vicious and Capital Offense was enough to hold the attention of the Blue team, and they never saw me there until too late. Our two pronged attacked caved in Blue’s lines, but time expired before we could drive them all the way back to their base.
In the end the jersey raffle raised over $2600 for Willie Stewart’s family, which is much more important than any game scores. They players got an action-packed day of paintball on a unique field, and a group of young players can now brag that they shot it up with a pro. Good times.
To see more pictures from this game, go to David Wooden’s Photobucket page for this event.
The ETHA Tour Continues
The players who “test drove” the ETHA at Black River came back with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Just check out my game schedule to know where to find me. I’ll be glad to put an ETHA in your hand to run a mission or blast through a final battle. I’ve added new games in September and October! Follow me on Twitter for all the latest - @foolybear.