Paintball club draws extreme participation at Hinsdale Central
Extreme Club member Colin Whelan of Clarendon Hills plots his next move in a game at Fox Paintball. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 18, 2011 8:04AM
Pete Pintz jokes about “not knowing any better” six years ago when students asked him to be faculty sponsor for Hinsdale Central’s Extreme Club.
But the 34-year-old biology teacher believes the club, which offers Central students the opportunity to compete in paintball, is a great activity.
“What Hinsdale Central is really good at is providing a lot of different experiences for kids,” Pintz said. “Clubs allow kids to interact with other kids and with teachers in a completely different environment than how it is in school.”
While playing paintball provides competition and a fairly extensive cardio workout, Pintz sees other benefits.
“There’s a lot of communication and cooperation involved in this,” he said. “Those are great skills to have for a lot of different things, and playing paintball definitely helps to develop those skills.”
The club’s paintball usually involves competition among teams of five or seven players. The object of the game is to capture the opposing team’s flag, usually by eliminating players by tagging them with paint. The tagging is accomplished by aiming and shooting paintball guns that propel capsules containing dye.
“There is a lot of strategy when you play,” said Hinsdale Central junior Paul Loss, co-president of the Extreme Club along with junior Lukas Rakauskas. “To be good at paintball, you have to understand what the other team might do; you have to anticipate. It’s kind of like a game of chess with more variables.”
Playing paintball also offers physical exercise not found playing chess along with the possibility of experiencing a bit of pain when being hit by a paint capsule.
“When kids first start playing, they’re usually a bit worried about being hit,” Pintz said. “It does sometimes hurt a little bit.”
Rakauskas said it doesn’t take long to get used to the feeling of being hit by a paint capsule.
“I just don’t like getting shot in the neck; that’s what I think hurts the most,” he said.
Pintz said paintball “by and large is a very safe sport,” and added players do wear protective equipment, including goggles to protect their eyes.
“Most of the injuries that do happen are not from being hit, but rather they are terrain involved, like when someone falls or trips on something,” Pintz said.
Rakauskas said he became involved with the Extreme Club as a freshman.
“I had been playing paintball a little right before I started high school,” he said. “Before getting involved in the club, I didn’t really know anyone who was playing paintball.”
Both Rakauskas and Loss said two of the best aspects are making new friends and meeting others who share a common interest.
“My first experience in paintball was this club,” Loss said.
“I was interested in trying it and came to the club when I found out about it. I got hooked on it and started making some new friends.
“There’s something about paintball that just clicked with me, and it was something I could do and have fun at. I probably never would have had a chance to try paintball if it hadn’t been for this club.”
Rakauskas said his involvement led to participation in other extracurricular activities.
“Most schools don’t have a paintball club,” he said.
“It’s really cool that we do have the club here.”
Pintz said Hinsdale Central’s club has about 50 members, including four girls.
Not all of the members participate in all four outings each school year to Fox Paintball in far west suburban Millington, near the Fox River.
“This has been a great way for some of our kids to have some fun, get some exercise and make some new friends, and it seems like the interest has been increasing,” Pintz said.