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Paintballers pray to play in league

August 31, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Amid the constant popping sound of air guns, young men emerged from a wooded area east of Hagerstown Saturday morning overheated and with small gobs of paint on their clothing, signifying defeat at the hands of their opponents.

But this was no ordinary paintball competition. The event - in which participants shot at each other with paint-filled projectiles that splattered on impact - involved a new paintball league set up to bring members of area churches together and closer to God.

"We think it's a good way to get people together and meet people from other churches," said Adam Cornelius, 17, of Christ Lutheran Church in Hagerstown. "Three members of my team didn't previously go to church, so it's bringing them in."

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Cornelius pitched the idea of starting the league to Youth Pastor Jason Kelley, who liked the idea and approached other area youth pastors, said Josh Wilson, also of Christ Lutheran Church.

Cornelius said other churches participating in the paintball league include Living Word, Hagerstown Family Church and Bethel Assembly of God.

Each team pays a $50 fee, which goes toward the cost of using land and buying a trophy for the league winner. Every team member must attend church at least two times a month to participate.

The league is open to people age 11 and older.

Cornelius said playing paintball in a church-based league is less expensive than playing in a game offered by a private business.

The teams will play at the Barr Farm on Fish Hatchery Road near A.M. Powell Fish Hatchery off Md. 66 and at Carlton Field near Dam 4 Road.

Saturday's competition was a practice game involving six teams. Cornelius said the league will officially start in the spring. He hopes to have about 12 teams participating by then.

The goal of the game is to shoot your opponents until a teammate is able to grab the opposing team's flag and bring it back to their own flag station. If a player is shot by a paintball and the ball splatters, the player is eliminated.

If a player is hit but the ball doesn't burst, the player is allowed to stay in the game, Cornelius said.

A team scores four points for winning a game, two points if a game ends in a tie, one point for a loss and no points if a team forfeits. The team with the most points at the end of the season wins the trophy.

Cornelius said working as a team is the key to avoiding hits by a stinging paintball.

"It hurts a little bit, like a rubber band snap - a hardcore rubber band snap," Cornelius said.

Zach Long, 17, should know. He ended up with a welt the size of a quarter on his right forearm.

"It just stings, kinda if someone slaps you," Long said.

Despite the slight pain, Long said the fun of the game makes playing worthwhile.

"It's really exciting. The adrenaline gets to you," he said. "You don't have much time to think. You're out there running around making sure you don't get shot."

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