When you start with nothing, check into a dirty hotel and still place fourth in a national tournament, you are part of the KSU paintball team.
On April 19-21, the KSU paintball team competed in nationals at the University of Central Florida. For the past four years the team has encountered trials building the club team, but this year they placed fourth in nationals and first place in the conference.
In 2009, Spencer Lloyd started the team, and they have faced drastic changes over the years. Lloyd has been competing in tournaments across the country since 2005. Without a full roster, the team began competing at the highest collegiate club level.
A Motel 8 was awaiting the team’s arrival on one of their first tournaments, as they pulled into the parking lot and approached the dark and dirty run down hotel.
“There was a stray dog outside the room that barked nonstop and in the middle of the night someone banged on the door and yelled “cops open up”, but eventually they left,” Lloyd said.
The people in the town were also not accommodating. The team went to the local Walmart for help and the employees assumed they were in town for a “Harry Potter Convention”.
This was four years ago and the team has come a long way since this incident.
At the beginning of this season the team was predicted to be the worst team in the league, but they quickly disproved all assumptions.
“Essentially we went from worst to top four in the nation. We took a lot of people by surprise because we ended up flying under the radar,” Lloyd said.
The KSU team has been so successful this year because they have a fast paced offense with immense depth.
“Depth helps us overcome fatigue, when you don’t have that depth that’s when teams drop the ball and get gassed,” Lloyd said.
The team clinched a first round bye at Nationals and advanced to the quarterfinals, where they upset Florida Atlantic University.
The team plans to improve and have a larger recruiting class next year despite some setbacks, as Lloyd and some other seniors are leaving the team. Some of the younger players are going to have to step up and fill his shoes.
“Definitely it is a turning point; I started the club in 09 and have been running it by myself. Guys have kind of learned that if we are going to keep going they are going to have to step up,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd will be studying abroad in China this summer but plans to stay involved in the team as much as possible. The team only has high expectations for next year with the plans of winning the National Championship.